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Bell, Charles 

The Selkirk 
and the settlers 






I n<-l idling Information Extracted from Original Documents Lately Discovered 

and Notes obtained from 



Honorary Corresponding Member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Hamilton Association, Chicago 

Academy of Science, Buffalo Historical Society, Historian of Woiseley's Expeditionary 

Force Association, etc., etc. 

Author of "Our Northern Waters," "Navigation of Hudson's Bay and Strait," "Some Historical Namrs and 

Places of Northwest Canada," "Red River Settlement History,"" Mound-builders in 

Manitoba." "Prehistoric Remains in the Canadian Northwest," 

"With the Half-breed Buffalo Hunters," etc., etc. 

\ViNM 'KO : 

.ae tha ._ ^..ct, 1 SS7 . 

ery eanv _. me history ot the t ett 




About 1736 LaVerandyre, a French-Can- 
adian, established on the Red river a 
trading post, which was certainly the first 
occasion that white men had a fixed abode 
in the lower Red River valley. After 1770 
the English merchants and traders of 
Montreal sent fur traders, with assortments 
of goods, into the country west of Lake 
Superior, but it was not until the year 1796 
that they, with the Hudson's Bay Co., 
established permanent posts on the Red and 
Assiniboine rivers^ It is not clear, from 
the available records, why the trade of 
these districts was neglected, but it was 
presumably because the North Saskatch- 
ewan and Athabasca rivers afforded a suffi- 
ciently extensive field for the force of ad- 
venturers engaged in the fur trade. Cer- 
tainly from the year 1796, .both the Hudson's 
Bay Co. and the Northwest Co. had several 
regularly supplied posts on the Red and 
Assiniboine rivers, though some of them 
were abandoned from time to time, and re- 
built in the immediate neighborhood, as was 
the case at Pembina and the mouth of the 
Souris. For instance, at Pembina in 1796 
Peter Grant erected a fort on the east bank 
of the Red river directly opposite the 
mouth of the Pembina river. In 1798 the 
post was on the south bank of the Pembina 
at its confluence with the Red and was 
under the charge of Charles Chabollier. 
Again in 1801 Alexander Henry built a fort 
on the north side of the Pembina, a few 
hundred yards from the deserted post on 
the south side. These were all forts of the 
Northwest Co. 

' On Sept. 28th, 1803, Alexander Henry 
left an assortment of trading goods with 
another officer of the Northwest Company 
at the Forks, which place was situated at 
the point between the Red River and the 
Assiniboine, on the north side of the latter. 
The next spring a large return of fur was 
shipped from this post to Fort William, on 
Lake Superior. It was not until 1806 that 
a fort of any considerable size was erected 
at the Forks, when at that date the North- 
west Company built Fort Gibraltar, which 
vas in after years the centre of very great 
nterest to the Selkirk settlers. 

The Hudson's Bay Company claim that 
hey had a trading post on the Red River 
s early as 1796, and there is every reason 
conclude that such a fort was in existence 
t a very early date in the history oi the 

Red River settlement, apd stood at the 
north end of the Slough at what is now 
known as East Selkirk village. Mr. Donald 
Murray, one of the Selkirk colonists, in- 
forms me that he slept at the ruins of 
such a place in the fall of 1815, when 
arriving in this country. He states 
that it was an old post of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, and had been called 
Ft. William. The chimneys still stood, in 
a ruined condition, in 1815. Both the rival 
fur companies also had trading posts at 
Netley Creek, below Selkirk, on the west 
side of the Red River. 

A third fur company, called the 
X Y Company, numbering amongst 
its partners Sir Alexander Mackenzie and 
Edward Ellice, competed in the fur trade 
on the Red and Assiniboine rivers, between 
1800 (perhaps a year or two before) and 
1804, when an amalgamation took place be- 
tween it and the Northwest Co. 

In 1804 a large number of "freemen," or 
discharged employees of the different fur- 
companies, found their way to the vicinity 
of the trading-posts on the Red and Assiui- 
boine rivers, a small settlement also 
being made by them on the Pembina 
river, at the place where it issues from the 
Pembina mountains, then called the Hair 
Hills. These freemen were nearly all of 
French extraction, being either Canadians 
or the issue of French-Canadian fathers and 
Indian women. It has been claimed that 
the first white woman who arrived in the 
Red River country was a French-Canadian, 
Madame Lajimoniere, who -came to the 
Northwest from Three Rivers, Quebec, in 
1806. I have found in the unpublished 
journal of Alexander Henry, an officer of 
the Northwest Company, a record of the 
fact that in 1807 an Orkney t^irl, disguised 
as a boy, who had followed her lover out 
from the Orkney Islands, gave birth to a 
child at Pembina. But Henry speaks of 
the wives of some of the Northwest Com- 
pany's officers residing at the posts on the 
Red river from 1800 to 1806 in such terms 
that it implies that they were not of Indian 
blood, so that investigation may yet show 
that white women were here prior to the 
above-mentioned two. 

After the establishment of Fort Gibraltar 
in 1806, it would appear, from the slight 
amount of data available, that quite a num- 
ber of French-Canadians and Metis settled 
on the Red river and erected dwellings, 


where their families resided during the win- 
ters and when the men were absent in the 
service of the Northwest Company. I can 
rind nothing regarding the operations of 
the Hudson's Bay Company for some 
years after 1808, but it is likely that 
they continued to trade on the two rivers as 
they, like the Northwest company, had 
posts on both streams when the Selkirk 
colonists arrived in 1812. 

This leads us up to the date when matters 
in England were shaping themselves tend- 
mg to the formation of a colony on the 
banks of the far-distant Red river, which 
afterwards resulted in a vast amount of 
trouble and considerable bloodshed before 
the colonists were allowed to settle down 
quietly to agricultural pursuits and in 
permanent abodes. 

became anxious that their faces should be 
turned to some colony of the empire. On 
May 24th, 1799, on the death of his father, 
he succeeded to the earldom of Selkirk, his 
six brothers having died before that date, 
the last in 1797, when he took the title of 
Lord Daer and Shortcleugh. 

From the time Selkirk visited the High- 
lands to 1802 he was striving to carry out 
some scheme which would bring relief to 
the peasantry there. After much corres- 
pondence with the British government re- 
garding the colonizing of a large tract of 
land m the island of St. John, since named 
Prince Edward Island, he succeeded in a 
practical manner in carrying out his pro- 
ject. In August, 1803, 800 selected emi- 
grants were landed at the colony, where, 
though meeting with very many 


Thomas Douglas, fifth Earl of Selkirk, 
Baron Daer and Shortcleugh in the Scotch 
peerage (1771-1820), was the seventh and 
youngest son of Dunbar (Hamilton) Douglas, 
the fourth earl. Born at the family seat in 
Kirkcudbrightshire, on the 20th June, 1771, 
he was educated at Edinburgh university, 
associating there with Sir Walter Scott, 
who in future years was a firm and stead- 
fast fi iend. 

As early as 1792 Selkirk interested him- 
self in the state of the Highland peasantry, 
who were frequently evicted from their 
homes and forced to emigrate. He 
found, during a lengthened journey amongst 
these people, that the country was fast be- 
comirit; pastoral, and the conviction was 
forced upon him, that emigration was the 
only hope left to the Highlanders, and with 
the true instincts of a British subject, he 

difficulties, they eventually suc- 
ceeded beyond their most sanguine 
expectations, their descendants to-day num- 
bering many thousands of the population of 
the island. 

Lord Selkirk, after personally superin- 
tending the placing of the colony, (which 
he revisited the following year) undertook 
an extended tour through the United States 
and Canada. Letters are on fyle in the 
Archives Department at Ottawa which show 
that he was endeavoring to establish 
settlements in Upper Canada as far west 
as the Sault St. Marie. In 1803 he 
proposed to the Government of Upper 
Canada to construct a wagon road 
from his colony of Baldoon, in Kent county, 
to Toronto, at a cost of over 40,000, if the 
government would give him a grant of cer- 
tain crown lands at points along the road; 
but the government would not a^ree with 


kirn as to valuation of the lands, and the 
project fell through. Selkirk wrote a num- 
ber of works on "The necessity of a more 
effective system of national defence," "Par- 
liamentary Reform," etc. The first-named 
ran through two, and the last through three 


During Selkirk's visit to Montreal he 
had been received and entertained by 
the resident partners of the Northwest 
Fur Co., who took every opportunity of 
paying him attention. They afforded him 
a very full insight into the management of 
their fur trade. It was written in 1817, by 
Edward Ellice (who, then a partner of the 
Northwest Co., afterwards became, a di- 
rector of the Hudson's Bay Co. ) that Sel- 
kirk's enquiries were more extended than 
was usual in the case of foreign visitors, 
but that they little expected that their con- 
fidential communications to a person ex- 
pressing his admiration at the result of 
their exertions, and his sincere friendship 
and thankful acknowledgments to them- 
selves, should have awakened the 
spirit of self-interest, which subsequently 
became so apparent, and still less did they 
suppose they were placing means in the 
hands of a commercial rival, to be applied 
first in opposition to their trade, and after 
the failure of that experiment in an at- 
tempt to effect the ruin of their establish- 

Lord Selkirk went to England and began 
to arrange for the carrying out of a grand 
project which would give him a control of 
the management of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. Ellice states that Selkirk 
communicated his ideas to a gentle- 
man "long interested in the Northwest 
Company, and to whom the public are 
indebted for a description of the country 
and of his own voyage and discoveries." 
This was most probably Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie, the discoverer of the Macken- 
zie River. This gentleman went into the 
scheme without any definite object further 
than a re-sale of the acquired stock at an 
enhanced price, when their management of 
the company's affairs had resulted favor- 
ably. Owing to bad management the stock 
of the Hudson's Bay Co. had fallen from 
250 per cent to between 50 and 60; and no 
dividend had been paid for years. Large 
blocks of stock were purchased, but owing 
to disagreement the two associates parted 
and Selkirk retained the bulk at least of 
the acquired stock, if he did not hold it 
all. Lord Selkirk immediately obtained 
opinions from some of the highest legal 
authorities in England as to the powers pos- 
sessed by the Hudson's Bay Co. under their 
charter of 1670. A full statement of these 
opinions is contained in the reports on the 
Ontario boundary question to the Canadian 
House of Commons in 1880. In a book 

written and published by John Halkett, a 
relative of Selkirk, is given a very differ- 
ent version of this decision by these same 
legal authorities, and much more favorable 
to the Hudson's Bay Co. The former seems 
to be the most authentic. These onimons 
held that the company could exclude 
all persons from residing on the lands 
granted to them, and not already settled 
there. But they were of opinion that the 
company cor.ld not dispossess the Canadians 
of the posts already occupied by them when 
they had been 20 years in quiet possession. 
They could not prevent people from using 
the navigation of Hudson's Bay or the navig- 
able rivers, or where they have been accus- 
tomed to pass for the purpose of transport- 
ing themselves and their merchandise, nor 
to prevent travellers from using wood and 
water, or pitching their tents. The com- 
pany could not maintain a right to an exclu- 
sive trade. They had certain powers to act 
in administering justice. 

These opinions were given by Samuel 
Romilly, G. S. Holroyd, W. M. Cruise, J. 
Scarlett and John Bell, but on the other 
hand the persons interested in the North- 
west Company received opinions more 
favorable to them from equally eminent 

Having extended his purchases of Hud- 
son's Bay Company stock to the amount of 
nearly 40,000 (the whole amount at that 
time being about 100,000) he at once 
asserted his controlling influence and re- 
placed several members of the committee 
by his relatives and friends. The general 
conduction of the affairs of the company 
immediately improved, but it was not for 
some time apparent what was the final ob- 
ject of his lordship. In May, 1811, a gen- 
eral meeting of the shareholders was called 
and those in attendance were informed that 
the Governor and committee considered it 
beneficial to their general interests to grant 
to Lord Selkirk, in fee simple, about 116,- 
000 square miles of territory in the Red 
River valley, on condition that he should 
establish a colony on the grant, and furnish, 
on certain terms, from among the settlers, 
such laborers as were required by -the com- 
pany in their trade. Several shareholders 
present (it is asserted by Ellice that all of 
them) protested against this grantto Selkirk, 
though it is significant that not less than 
two of the dissentients were men who were 
avowed agents of the Northwest Company, 
and Mr. Halkett writes that two of these 
persons had purchased their stock only 
forty-eight hours before the meeting, their 
object being to em harass the Hudson's 
Bay Company so that the Northwest 
Company would gain an advantage. 

The boundaries of the district granted to 
Lork Selkirk under these circumstances 
were as follows: 

"Beginning at the western shores of Lake 
Winnipeg at a point on 52 50' north lati- 
tude, and thence running west to Lake 


Winnipegoosis. otherwise called Little 
Winnipeg; thence in a southerly direction 
through said lake, so as to strike its west- 
ern shore in latitude 52; thence due west 
to the place where the parallel 52 inter- 
sects the western branch of the Red river, 
otherwise called the Assiniboine river; 
thence due south from that point of inter- 
section to the heights of land which separ- 
ate the waters running into the Hudson's 
Bay from those of the Missouri and Missis- 
sippi rivers; thence iu an easterly direction 
along the height of land to the sources of 
the River Winnipeg, meaning by such last- 
named river the principal branch of the 
waters which unite in the Lake Saginagas; 
thence along the main stream of those 
waters, and the middle of the several 
lakes through which they flow, to the 
mouth of the River Winnipeg, and thence 
in a northerly direction through the middle 
of Lake Winnipeg to the p'ace of begin- 
ning, which territory is called Assiniboia. " 

Certainly this was an extensive and val- 
uable free gift, which cost the company, 
twenty-five years later, some 25,000 to re- 
gain possession of. It must, however, be 
borne in mind that an enormous outlay of 
money was necessary before the land would be 
of any direct value, though the idea appears 
to have been entertained by Lord Selkirk 
that he could sell the lands in England for a 
lump sum. This is indicated in the terms 
of the prospectus which he prepared, and to 
some extent circulated, though the asser- 
tion has been made that it was not intended 
for general circulation, but was composed 
only for the edification and information of 
some friends. 

The shareholders who were opposed to 
the grant, in their protest took strong ex- 
ception in detail, on the following general 
grounds: There was no adequate consider- 
ation stipulated for between the company 
and the earl. The land granted comprised 
70,000 superficial miles, containing about 
44,000,000 acres of the most valuable arable 
land, and constituted no inconsiderable 
portion of the company's capital stock. 
That if it was necessary to sell the 
land it should have been advertised. 
That the Earl was not sufficiently bound to 
settle the grant and that it would be diffi- 
cult to people "a region 2,000 miles from 
any seaport, and out of reach of all those 
aids and comforts which are derived from 
civil society." That no reason could be 
seen for the grant but the endowing of 
Lord Selkirk's posterity with an immensely 
valuable landed estate. That private 
'traffic would ensue between the Indians and 
the settlers, to the injury of the company's 
interests, and the settlement would become 
an asylum for deserters from the traders. 

This protest was signed on the 30th May, 
1811, by Wm. Thwaits, Robert Whitehead, 
John Inglis, John Fish, Edward Elllce and 
Alex. Mackenzie, but nothing resulted from 
it, and Lord Selkirk proceeded to carry out 

his long cherished anddifficultundertakingof 
transporting, to the banks of the Red river, 
a large number of men, women and children. 
The magnitude of the operation would have 
appalled any less resolute person than 
Selkirk, but he had experience in emigra- 
tion, and was provided with means to carry 
on such a formidable undertaking. 

His lordship then issued an advertise 
ment or prospectus which would, 
in this age of land advertisements, serve as 
a model. It describes the quantity and 
cheapness of the lands, and points out that 
if handled by what is in modern days 
termed a "syndicate," they would bring 
hundreds of thousands of pounds by retail- 
ing in small lots, at an advance price, to 
actual settlers, but owing to its remoteness 
the whole tract is offered for the lump sum 
of 10,000. The titl* is stated to be unex- 
ceptionable, but the situation such that im- 
mediate settlement must not be looked for, 
and that reason is given why the price de- 
manded is so low. It is proposed, as an 
alternative, to form a joint stock company, 
with a capital stock of 20,000, which will 
sell land to actual settlers at reasonable fig- 
ures. No Americans are to be accepted as 
settlers, but special inducements are offered 
to people from the highland of Scotland, 
and some parts of Ireland, so that they will 
not be lost to the Empire by emigration. 
Religion is not made the ground of disquali- 
fication, an unreserved participation in 
every privilege is to be enjoyed by Pro- 
testants and Catholics without distinction, 
and it is proposed that in every parochial 
division an allotment of land shall be 
made for the perpetual support 
of a clergyman of that persuasion which the 
majority of the inhabitants adhere to. The 
joint stock company must undertake to pro- 
vide settlers with passage to the colony at 
moderate rates, 10 being mentioned as an 
estimate. Time accomodation is to be 
allowed to settlers who would likely be 
asked ten shillings per acre for the land, or 
a rental of one shilling per annum in per- 
petuity. The cultivation of hemp will be 
encouraged as well as the growth of fine 
wool, the plains affording a fine grass for 
pasturage, possessed, in a natural state, by 
no other part of British America. The 
fleeces f om ten or twelve sheep will pay 
for the rent of 100 acres. After ten or 
twelve years the returns to the shareholders 
may be expected to increase rapidly. "The 
amount to which the profits may ultimately 
arise seems almost to baffle imagination up- 
on any principle of calculation which can 
reasonably be adopted." 

Agents were sent to Ireland and the) 
Highlands of Scotland to engage a number/ 
of servants, some for the Hudson's Bay 
Company's service, and others to labor in 
the colony; these were engaged for a term 
of three years and to be sent ahead of the 
settlers to prepare for their reception. 
They were each to receive, at the expiration 


of their contracts, 100 acres of land free of 

The Hudson's Bay Company appointed 
Mr. Miles, formerly captain in 
the British army, to be governor of the 
district of Assiniboia, at some point in 
which the settlement was to be formed, and 
Lord Selkirk also nominated that gentleman 
to direct the settlers and look after their 
and his interests. 

In the summer of 1811 the party, number- 
ing about 90 persons, of both sexes and all 
ages, gathered from Ireland and the north 
of Scotland, were waiting at Stornoway, in 
the Island of Lewis, ready for embarkation 
on the ships of the Hudson's Bay Company, 
which were sent annually to the posts on 
the shores of Hudson's bay. 


After the conquest of Canada, in 1761, 
the fur countries to the west of Lake 
Superior attracted the attention of Montreal 
merchants, and traders, in a few years, 
began to penetrate into the almost unknown 
wilds of the western forests, prairies and 
lakes. From the days of the intrepid pio- 
neer La Verandrye, the fur trade had been 
'farmed out" by the French authorities, 
but with the departed rule vanished the re- 
strictions to the fur trade. Many of the 
voyageurs and employees of the persons 
trading in the interior under the French 
licenses, remained on the plains of the Red 
and Saskatchewan rivers, in the districts 
where the trading posts had been situated, 
having become so accustomed to the wild 
savage life, and attached to the Indian 
women with whom they lived, that they 
preferred to adopt the customs and pursuits 
of the Indians to returningtotheirold homes 
on the St. Lawrence. McKenaie informs 
us that for some years after the conquest 
the Indians west of Lake Superior were 
compelled to go down-to the posts of the 
Hudson's Bay Co. at the Bay to obtain 
their supplies of manufactured goods, the 
trade from Canada being suspended. It 
was not until 1766 that the first trader, un- 
der the new order of affairs, arrived at the 
Kaministiquia river. The next year Thomas 
Curry pushed into the interior, with four 
canoes laden with goods intended for the 
Indian trade, and managed to reach the 
Saskatchewan, from whence he returned 
the following spring with a large quantity 
of fine furs. Within a few years a number 
of traders were competing for the furs se- 
cured by the Indians of the Saskatchewan 
and Athabasca, which trade had, for some 
years previously, been carried to York 
Factory on the Hudson Bay. The Hudson's 
Bay Co. were compelled to take action, and 
for the first time since their arrival in the 
Bay, in 1670. after securing their charter, 
they established a post in the interior. 
On their account in 1774, Samuel 
Hearne, who afterward explored 
north from Churchill to the 

Arctic Ocean, erected a fort at Sturgeon 
Lake, an expansion of the Saskatchewan, 
where ever since the company has main- 
tained an establishment. When the Mon- 
treal traders shortly after this time visited 
the Red and Assiniboine rivers, they found 
many French half-breeds, who claimed that 
the country belonged to them as successors 
of their Indian mothers. The traders were 
compelled to pay tribute before they were 
allowed to barter. In 1781 some traders at 
Portage la Prairie, while preparing their 
wintering houses, were attacked by the 
Crees and Assiniboines, but with the loss of 
three men they drove off the Indians, kill- 
ing fifteen warriors and wounding many 
others. The post was hastily abandoned. 
The year before the Indians, during a 
drunken squabble with the traders, as- 
sembled at the Eagle Hills, on the Sas- 
katchewan, had forced the whites to fly, 
after several on both sides had been killed. 
The smallpox appeared in 1781 amongst the 
Indians all over the Northwest, and 
thousands of the natives perished during 
that and the succeeding year, completely 
ruining the fur trade, and though they had 
been reduced to two parties the traders suf- 
fered great loss. In 1778 a trader named 
Peter Pond represented a joint stock com- 
pany and traded in the Athabasca country 
with such success that he could find trans- 
port to Lake Superior for only one-half of 
his furs the following spring, but relying 
on the honesty of the natives he left the 
balance stored in his wintering house, 
where, on his return the next season, he 
found them intact. His success led, in 
1783-4, to the formation of the original 
Northwest Company, the merchants in- 
etrested dividing the stock into sixteen 
shares. Some traders, not satisfied with 
their allotment, formed another company, 
in which was interested Alexander Macken- 
zie. These two interests competed for the 
trade, and rivalry led to such hostile con- 
duct that the result was murder and vio- 
lence, which terminated in the union 
of the companies in July, 1787. 
The gross venture in 1788 amounted 
to 40,000, covered by 22 shares. 
In 1798, a new arrangement was entered 
into, the number of shares being increased 
to 42, but some of the old partners were 
dissatisfied and formed a new company 
called the X Y, of which Sir Alexander 
McKenzie and Edward Ellice were the chief 
members. The rivalry between these 
companies, from 1798 to 1804, was very 
great, especially on the Red and Assiniboine 
rivers, but in the latter year an amalgama- 
tion was effected. Alexander Henry, in 
his unpublished journal, on the 1st January, 
1805, writes at Pembina, where he was the 
resident agent of the Northwest company, 
"It was high time for amalgamation, as 
every Indian on the river was a chief, and 
goods were given gratis, except silver 
works, strouds, and blankets. All the 


Indians wore scarlet coats and had large 
kegs and flasks. " 

A manuscript inventory of the Northwest 
Company, now in the archives of the Man- 
itoba Historical Society, shows that the 
company had for principal posts, in the 
year 1798, throughout the country west of 
Lake Superior, th following situations: 

Grand Portage (Lake Superior), Fort 
Charlotte (9 miles west of Grand Portage) 
Pembina River, Rainy Lake, English River, 
Upper Fort Des Prairies, Fort St. Louis, 
Cumberland House (the three last on the 
Saskatchewan), Fort Dauphin, Swan River, 
Athabasca, Churchill River, Red River, 
Lake \V innipeg, Slave Lake, and several 
posts in what is now Minnesota. The total 
amount of the inventories amounted to 

It is to be noticed that the Assiniboine, 
though called so by the Indians from Assine 
(stone) and boine, or poille (Sioux Indian), 
was known to the early French traders as 
the St. Charles, and to the Hudson's Bay 
Company and North west Company employes 
as the Upper Red River. The Selkirk 
settlers refer to the river as the Osnaboine. 
There were a large number of trading posts 
on the Assiniboine at the beginning of the 
present century many more than on the 
Red River. 

This, then, was the condition of affairs on 
the Red River. The Northwest Company 
had a number of posts, their employss being 
principally French Canadians and French 
half-breeds, and were opposed in the fur 
trade by the Hudson's Bay Company, who, 
in the words of Henry, always followed 
and never led them. Their traders were 
scattered over the Northwest from Lake 
Superior to the Pacific where the adven- 
turous McKenzie had led them. They, fol- 
lowing in the footsteps of their French pre- 
decessors and extending their territories, 
claimed by right of discovery, the privi- 
lege of trading in the land that had re- 
mained for long years in their undisputed 
possession. The Hudson's Bay Co. while 
claiming the whole of the lands to the head 
waters of the streams flowing through any 
connections into Hudson Bay, had never 
ventured to make good their claim by es- 
tablishing trading stations in this vast 
country. At the date the Hudson's Bay Co. 
sent Mr. Hearne to build Cumberland 
House, their first inland post, the Montreal 
traders were in full possession of the interior 
trade, while a period of forty years had 
elapsed since the French Canadians under 
LaVerandrye had planted their forts on 
'Lake Winnipeg and its tributary streams. 
Though rivals in trade the officers and men 
of the two companies were on good terms; 
in many cases, on the Saskatchewan, one 
enclosure surrounding the buildings 
of both, only a fence or wall 
separating the portion assigned to each. 
Dances and other jollifications were given 
by the presiding officer in either division of 

the fort, and the amuse ments were partici- 
pated in by the united population. To give 
some idea of the number of persons housed 
within the walls of such a fort as I have 
described I extract from Henry's journal 
that at the White Mud River House, on the 
North Saskatchewan, in 1810, the North- 
west Company had 28 men, 35 women and 
72 children, 135 in all, while their neigh- 
bors of the Hudson's Bay Company number- 
ed 85 souls. It is interesting to note that 
amongst the above-mentioned Northwest 
people were to be found the names of Le 
Pierrie, Cardinalle, Succier, Dumont, Des 
Noyer, Nadeau, Deschamps and Parenteau. 
I believe all these names are to be found 
amongst the French Metis of to-day. 

When Lord Selkirk began to arrange for 
the planting of a settlement on the banks 
of the Red River, the partners of the 
Northwest Company, resident in England, 
protested against such a course, and 
placed every obstacle in their power in 
the way of his Lordship, to prevent the 
carrying out of his scheme. They acknow- 
ledged that they had purchased Hudson's 
Bay Company stock within forty-eight hours 
of the general meeting at which the governor 
and committee announced the bestowal of 
the land grant of Assiniboia to Lord Sel- 
kirk, and admit it was done as a means to 
give them an opportunity to protest against 
the grant. They claimed that Lord Selkirk's 
object in forming such a colony on the Red 
River was to break up their fur trade and 
intercept them in their passage from Canada 
to the Athabasca and Pacific coast. They 
denied the rights of exclusive trade ad- 
vanced by the Hudson's Bay Company, and 
the legality of the charter of 1670, holding 
that the French had possessed the country 
before the conquest, and that after 1761 
all British subjects came into possession of 
the privileges enjoyed by the French traders. 
They then, after "obtaining legal opinions, 
like Selkirk, from eminent British 
authorities, informed both the British 
Government and the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany that they were determined to 
maintain their rights and possessions, 
while they did not acknowledge the power 
of jurisdiction or exclusive rights claimed 
by the Hudson's Bay Co., and would not do 
so, until they received from the government 
"a distinct intimation that these rights 
were recognized and admitted by govern- 
ment, and they would resist any attempts 
to seize their property or persons, or to dis- 
possess them of their trade, under these 

This was the position assumed by the 
Northwest Co. when the first party of the 
Selkirk settlers gathered at Stornoway, in 
July, 1811. 


Documents published by the Canadian 
archives office, inform us that Miles Mac- 
donell, who was appointed by Lord Selkirk 


as Governor of the colony, was born in In- 
verness, Scotland, in 1767. He in after 
years served as ensign in America in the 
King's Royal Regiment of New York, re- 
turning to Scotland in 1788, where he mar- 
ried. In 1794 he was appointed lieutenant 
in the second battalion of Royal Canadian 
Volunteers, to which his lather, John Mac- 
donell, Speaker of the Assembly of Upper 
Canada, had been gazetted as captain. Two 
years later he received his commission as 
captain, and from 1800 to 1802 was sta- 
tioned at Fort George (Niagara). On the 
reduction of the force he lived in Glengarry, 
part of his correspondence being dated at 
Cornwall. Some of his grandchildren are 
now residing at Brockville, Ont. He died 
at Point Fortune on the Ottawa in 1828. 
This was the man chosen by Lord Selkirk 
to undertake the difficult task of superin- 
tending the removal of the colonists to the 
prairies of the Red River Valley. His ex- 
perience in the wilds of Canada served him 
iu good stead later on. 

Lord Selkirk, in 1810, wrote to Canada 
urging him to proceed to London, where he 
would give him an appointment, the nature 
of which he could not then communicate. 
Capt. Macdonell went to join his lordship 
and was immediately placed in charge of 
the expedition. 


The colony servants and employes had 
assembled at Stornoway to the numbei of 
125, having been engaged in Ireland, the 
Highlands of Scotland, the Orkneys, Glas- 
gow and London. Most of these persons 
were engaged as clerks and mechanics for 
Lord Selkirk and the Hudson's Bay Co.'s 
service, and it must be understood that, as 
a rule in the after proceedings the Com- 
pany's business matters and those of Sel- 
kirk's colony were kept entirely distinct 
from each other. 

The followinginformaticn is extracted from 
letters of Capt. Macdonell to Lord Selkirk, 
which have only been made public within 
this month. 

A great deal of difficulty was experienced 
in getting the people on board the ships, 
which were the Prince of Wales, the Eddy- 
stone, and the Edward and Anne. Mac- 
Jonell had to apply to the captain of 
the convoy for a party of marines, and it 
was necessary to go through the ceremony 
of having some impressed and put on board 
that man-of-war, which was to accompany 
them to Hudson's Bay. One man had en 
listed with a military recruiting party, but 
he was taken from the soldiers and shipped. 
Five absconded, and were not recovered. 
While the qaptain of the Edward and Anne 
was on shore making his clearance from the 
custom house, a Captain McKenzie, who 
had been agent for the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany at Stornoway the year before, boarded 
the vessel with a recruiting party and gave 
ealiitiag mj.iay to som^ of tae man, but ha 

and the soldiers were ejected from the 
ship without the recruits. McKenzie then 
awaited the arrival of the collector of cus- 
toms and claimed some of the men, but was 
not allowed to take them. On this vessel 
were men from Glasgow, Ireland, and a few 
from Orkney, numbering in all 76. After 
mustering the passengers the collector of 
customs (whose wife was an aunt of Sir 
Alexander McKenzie) read the clause of 
the Emigration Act regulating the provi- 
sions for passengers, and a public declara- 
tion made, that if any were unwilling to go 
abroad they might go to the shore. Several 
said they were not willing many went 
over the ship's side into McKenzie's boat 
one party ran away with the ship's boat, 
but was brought back one man jumped 
into the sea and swam for it until he was 
picked up by the recruiting boat. The 
revenue cutter's boat was likewise engaged 
in taking the unwilling, and to cap the 
troubles of Macdonell, the collector took 
ashore a number in his own boat. Mac- 
donell could not see clearly if the fact of 
the men bjing indentured servants excluded 
them from the action of emigration act, and 
so refrained from following them to compel 
them to reship. He blamed Mr. Reid, the 
collector, for all the trouble, and claimed 
that person was influenced in his conduct 
by Sir Alexander McKenzie and other in- 
terested persons of the Northwest company 
resident in England. 


At length on the 26th July the ships set 
sail for York Factory, Hudson Bay, with 
105 persons engaged tor colony work and 
for the fur trade of the Hudson's Bay Co., 
90 of whom were workmen and 15 clerks 
Some of the Irishmen were tur- 
bulent during the early part of the 
voyage, but the men from Glasgow gave 
the niost trouble of all. The voyage cov- 
ered 61 days and Macdonell writes that it 
was the longest ever known, stormy 
weather on the ocean being followed by fine 
mild weather with moderate winds when 
the bay was entered. The ships' captains 
were incompetent, and the Edward and 
Anne was wretchedly fitted for the voyage. 
The colonists experienced fairly good health 
and were drilled with arms, few of them 
knowing how to fire off a gun. The effects 
of the deserters at Stornoway were auc- 
tioned off, and brought 27 sterling. 

Messrs. Auld (superintendent) and Cook 
(governor at York Factory) afforded the 
party every assistance on their arrival and 
informed Macdonell that a great number of 
the Hudson's Bay Company's officers and 
men were interested in the success of the 
colony, and were looking forward to joining 
it on their retirement from the service. 
Orders had been sent to Red River to se- 
cure provisions for the people on their arri- 
val there in the following spring, the season 
being too far advanced to allow of their go- 


ing on that autumn. Macdonell had foreseen 
this delay. News had been received that 
the Red River had overflowed its banks in 
the spring, a circumstance said to be a new 
experience in that country. 


Two old iron swivel guns had been taken 
from the stores of Lord Seaforth at 
Stornoway, but Capt. Macdonald, not 
satisfied with them, asked for some "sound 
brass pieces," 3-pounders, with carriages, 
etc., complete. Without doubt these guns 
were sent, and transported to Red river, for 
carriages in a state of decay and bearing 
that date are still to be seen about the old 

buildings of Fort Garry. A few years after, 
the Northwest Company took possession of 
nine cannon stored in the warehouse of 
Lord Selkirk at what was termed the 
"Government House," which a few months 
later became Fort Douglas. These cannon 
played a very prominent part in the history 
of the Selkirk settlement from 1811 to as 
late a date as 1870, when Riel, as President 
of the Provisional Government, commanded 
the situation largely through being in pos- 
session of them. They are now scattered, 
most of them being in the custody of private 
individuals who use them to adorn their 
lawns, or have consigned them to the 
lumber heaps of their back yards. 



The stores intended for the settlement 
were placed in the York Factory warehouse, 
and mention is made by Macdonell of the 
grindstones, some of which had, by an 
error, been left on board the ships. It is 
very probable, hewever, that the old- 
fashioned grindstone now in possession 
of the Manitoba Historical society, a cut of 
which is herewith shown, was one of the* 
identical stock landed that > ear. Eacli half is 
about two feet in diameter and an inch and 
a half thick. One stone being placed on the 
other, the primitive handle was grasped by 
the operator and the upper stone turned 
round smartly, as the grain was poured into 
the hole in the centre about the pivot pin, 
the flour produced gradually working out- 
ward between the stones. While a slow 
and laborious process, in comparison with 
the roller system of this day, many a bushel 
of wheat was, by the exercise of patience 
and muscle, run through this old-fashioned 
mill, and furnished a strong and wholesome 
food to the coloiiists. 


This first party of colonists was sent from 
York Factory over to the Nelson River, 
near Flamboro Head, where huts weie 
erected for their accommodation, and a new 
winter road cut out, reducing the distance 
from 28 to 23 miles. The rations issued 
daily comprised from one to two pounds of 
venison, when obtainable, and a pint of 
oatmeal, with an occasional allowance of 
pease, barley and molasses. Bacon appears 
on the requisitions drawn on the York 
storehouse, but it was not used where 
fresh meat was procurable. Scurvy soon 
appeared, and on the 21st January, 1812, 
23 men were down with it, but the exten- 
sive use of spruce juice almost entirely re- 
moved the evil. 

By the 26th October the people moved 
into the houses, which were built of logs, 
with clay and moss-covered roofs. Plenty 
of boards were obtained from an abandoned 
house of the company on the opposite or 
southern side of the Nelson River, not far 
from Flamboro Head, so that; comfortable 


bunks and floors were constructed. Two 
fences were erected, for a couple of miles in 
extent, on each side of the river, with snares 
placed in them for the purpose of catching 
deer, which, however, did not arrive that 
fall as was usual, but in March and April 
a very large number were captured in the 
snares, thousands crossing the river in the 
early part of May. Supplies of provisions 
were hauled on sleds from York Factory 
each week, and, though the weather at 
times was most severe, no accidents from 
freezing happened. Macdonnell had hired 
a man named Will Finlay at York in the 
autumn, he being a discharged company's 
servant. This man gave a great deal of 
trouble to Macdonnell, for he instigated 
some of the turbulent ones to resist all 
authority and to refuse to do any work. 

On New Year's day some of the Irishmen 
made a violent attack on the Orkneymen, 
three of whom were so brutally beaten that 
their lives were despaired of for a month 
afterward. The trouble arose from the fact 
that a pint of rum had been served out to 
each individual with which to celebrate the 

In February Finlay, who would not obey 
orders and refused to do any work, was 
removed to a hut built for the purpose 
of confining him in, but on the first night he 
occupied it thirteen men of the party as- 
sembled and burnt the hut to the ground 
amidst wild shouts of defiance. 

The insurgents were summoned to appear 
before Mr. Hillier, a magistrate who accom- 
panied the colonists, and Capt. Macdonnell. 
Nine of these people were Glasgow men and 
the remaining four were young Orkney lads 
who had been induced to join them. At 
the examination they refused to submit to 
the authority of the magistrates and con- 
temptuously walked away, claiming that 
they were not being treated according to the 
promises made them by the agent at the 
time of engaging. These malcontents were 
given the choice between starving and haul- 
ing their own provisions from York Fac- 
tory, and were notified that they would be 
sent back to Scotland for trial. In the 
spring they obtained possession oi firearms, 
but Mr. Auld, the superintendent of the 
Hudson's Bay Company ejected them from 
the fort, and refused to give them any pro- 
visions until they surrendered their arms 
and submitted, which they did shortly after, 
and being separated went to work, and it 
was decided not to return them to Scotland, 
as their reports would have the effect of 
preventing the enlisting of men for the ser- 

Four new boats were built at York during 
the winter, after the batteau pattern, 
though much difficulty was experienced in 
getting the Company's people to depart 
from their regular models, which Macdonnell 
claimed were not nearly so good, being only 
22 feet in the keel, while his were 28 feet 

An Irish priest from Killala named 
Bourke was the only clergyman with the 
party, but he returned to Ireland, from 
York, after spending the winter with Capt. 
Macdonnell, who considered that while he 
might make a good recruiting agent for the 
colony in Ireland, did not think "he would 
ever make a convert to the Catholic reli- 
gion." Macdonuell was anxious to have a 
prieat sent out, who would be well recom- 
mended, but makes no allusion to supplying 
a Presbyterian minister for the people of 
that denomination, and who were expected 
to be in the great majority in the future 

In writing Selkirk from York, Macdon- 
nell presses on His Lordship the necessity of 
having martial law established in Assini- 
boia, for, "within the tract all traders must 
take out a license, which may answer a 
good purpose with the Northwest Co." ^He 
proposed to organize a company of fifty 
men at the first outset, the troops to be 
mounted so as to act as infantry or cavalry 
as the service might require. 

It is probable that the number of this 
first party under Macdonnell has heretofore 
been over-estimated by historians, for^vhile 
most writers on the subject mention 70 as 
the number, it is stated by Macdonnell in a 
letter to Lord Selkirk, dated 4th July, 1812, 
at York Factory, " 22 is my portion out of 
49, all that are effective of last year's im- 
portation. The people are so fluctuating 
that I cannot yet send a list of my party. 
A man of one nation is prejudiced against 
Agoing with one of another. I shall go on 
with any number, take possession of the 
tract and hoist the standard." He left on 
the 5th July tor the Red River. 


It was about August or Sept., 1812, that | 
these pioneers arrived at the Red River and 
began the erection of dwellings and store- 
houses on the west bank, about three- 
quarters of a mile north of the mouth 
of the Assiniboine; previous to which, _] 
however, Governor Macdonnell ordered 
all his people to assemble, and read his com- 
mission as Lord Selkirk's representative and 
governor. Ellice writes that a salute was 
fired at the Hudson's Bay fort in the neigh- 
borhood, the Indians assembled looking on 
in silent wonder. 

Though every exertion was put forth to 
prepare for the approaching winter, it ap- 
pears that some of the party were compelled 
to live with the freemen in the neighbor- 
hood, and the North-West Company's em- 
ployees rendered great assistance to them, 
furnishing goods and provisions .for their 
support. In the spring of 1813 Governor 
Macdonnell also procured from the North- 
Westers, potatoes, barley, oats, garden 
seeds, four cows, a bull, pigs, fowls, etc., 
articles which the traders could ill afford to 
spare, though at each of their posts on the 
Red river a quantity of vegetables were 
raised for their own use. 



A small party of colonists arrived at 
York Factory in the autumn of 1812, and 
worked through to the settlement the next 
year. There was a strong spirit of insub- 
ordination exhibited by these people 
on the voyage to York Factory and a con 
spiracy was entered into to seize the vessel 
and sell her in some foreign country. The 
captain armed his men and with the assist- 
ance of some cannon loaded with grape shot 
subdued the uprising. Most of these emi- 
grants were engaged as laborers and ser- 
vants, and came from Scotland and Ireland. 
Several families were in the party. 

Finding, on their arrival at the settlement 
on the Red river, that it would be impossi- 
ble to provide provisions for them during 
the following winter, the colonists were sent 
up the Red river to the mouth of the Pem- 
bina, where^on the south side, they erected 
huts and enclosed them with palisades. 
This place was named Fort Daer, after Lord 
Selkirk, who was Baron Daer. Here they 
had their headquarters, though many of 
them were forced to join with the plain 
hunters engaged in killing buffalo to supply 
the trading posts. The hardships endured 
by some were extreme, and as they were not 
provided with horses the stalking of buffalo 
for their subsistence was a dangerous and 
precarious mode of hunting. 

The journals of the Northwesters, at the 
various posts, contain many notes of the 
supplies and assistance afforded to even the 
employees of the Hudson's Bay Company in 
the early days of this country,, and it may 
well be imagined that the colonists, unac- 
customed to the life and climate and not 
properly clad in suitable garments, suffered 
intensely. In reviewing fairly 'the events 
that succeeded this generous conduct of the 
Northwesters, it will add to one's percep- 
tion of the true situation, if these acts are 
not lost sight of, for many outrageous 
charges have been preferred against the 
people of the Northwest company. 

The colonists who wintered ut Pembina 
returned to the colony in the spring and 
continued their efforts to cultivate the 
clearings near the bank of the river. Much 
of what is now open land or prairie, was at 
that date covered with timber or scrubby 
bushes. There seems to be no doubt 
that Lord Selkirk, or his managers, were 
somewhat negligent in not providing horses 
for the settlers to work their farms. Horses 
were to be had in plenty from the Assini- 
boine and other Indians, for the North- 
westers for fifteen years previous had 
obtained and. regularly used horses at their 
establishments, and the free hunters were 
equally well supplied. The colonists were 
compelled to break the ground with hoes 
and clear away the scrub as best they 
I, could. 

In the early part of this year (1814) a 
large number of emigrants sent out by Lord 
Selki" k the previous summer, arrived at 
the Red River settlement. They had been 

landed at Churchill on the 13th August 
after an eventful voyage, during which 
fever raged on board. They were sent 
up the Churchill River about fifteen 
miles, where log houses were erected 
and to this place during the winter their 
rations were drawn on flat sleds from the 
fort. Owing to some disagreement about 
hunting grouse, which were abundant during 
the winter, Mr. Auld, the officer of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, demanded and ob- 
tained the locks from the guns owned by 
the colonists, and they were unable to lay 
in stores of these birds. 

After a severe winter the larger portion 
ef the party were sent to York Factory, 
leaving Churchill in April. All their pro- 
visions and baggage had to be drawn by 
themselves on sleds, snowshoes be- 
ing in general use. At York 
they arrived, after suffering ter- 
ribly, and were then established in huts, 
after which time, the spring opening, they 
obtained an abundance of fresh venison and 
feathered game, upon which they principally 
subsisted until they started on the voyage 
up the rivers to Lake \Yinnipeg and on to 
the colony settlement, after having been 
joined by the remainder of the party, con- 
sisting chiefly of elderly persons who had 
been carried by boats from Churchill to 
York later in the spring. 

The population of the settlement 
was now about two hundred, and 
another addition was made to it 
the next year (1815), the circumstances 
relating to which will be dealt with later 
on, as it is here necessary to notice the 
first occasion on which the Northwest Co. 
and Governor Macdonnell came into con- 

On the 8th of January, 1814, Macdonnell 
issued a proclamation, which, after reciting 
the fact that the Hudson's Bay Co. had 
ceded to Lord Selkirk the territory of 
Assiniboia, and that his Lordship had duly 
appointed Miles Macdonnell to be gov- 
ernor of the same, continued as 
follows: "And whereas, , the welfare 
of the families at present forming 
settlements on the Red River within 
the said territory, with those on 
their way to it, passing the winter at York 
or Churchill Forts, in Hudson's Bay, as 
also those who are expected to arrive next 
autumn, renders it a necessary and indis- 
pensable part of my duty to provide for 
their support. In the yet uncultivated 
state ot the country, the ordinary resources 
derived from the buffalo and other wild ani- 
mals hunted within the said territory, are 
not deemed more than adequate for the 
requisite supply; wherefore it is hereby or- 
dered that no person trading in furs or 
provisions within the territory for the 
Honourable Hudsoa's Bay Com- 
pany, the North-West Company, 
or any individual or unconnected traders or 
persons whatever, shall take out any pro- 



visions, either of flesh, dried meat, grain or 
vegetables, procured or raised within the 
said territory, by land or water carriage, for 
one twelve months irom the date hereof, 
save and except what may be judged neces- 
sary for the trading parties at this preseut 
within the territory to carry them to their 
respective destinations, and who may on 
due application to me obtain a license for 
the same. The provisions procured and 
raised as above shall be taken for the use of 
the colony, and that no loss may accrue to 
the parties concerned they will be paid 
for by British bills at the customary rates. 
And be it hereby further made known, that 
whosoever shall be detected in attempting 
to convey out, or shall aid or assist in con- 
veying out, or attempting to carry out, any 
provisions prohibited as above, either by 
land or water carriage, shall be taken into 
custody and prosecuted as the laws in such 
cases direct, and the provisions so taken, as 
well as any goods or chattels of what 
nature soever, which may be takes along 
with them, and also the craft, carriages anct 
cattle, instrumental in conveying away the 
same, to any part but the settlement on Red 
River, shall be forfeited. 

Given under my hand at ForJi_J}aer, 
(Pembina), the 8th day of JanuaryMSjT,) 


By order of the Governor. 

[Signed.] JOHN SPENCER, 


To understand what would be the effect 
of the carrying out of the terms of this 
proclamation to the Northwest company, 
it is necessary to be aware of the fact that a 
large number of hunters were kept at their 
Red River and Assiniboine posts, to capture 
buffalo . and make the dried 
meat and pemioan which was shipped to 
Lake Winnipeg to, provision the army of 
boatmen engaged in. carrying out to Lake 
Superior the produce of the winter's trade 
throughout the whole vast country west and 
north, extending even to the Pacific ocean, 
and also to return the incoming crews in the 

r autumn to the*upper stations. This supply 
of provisions once cut off the fur trade of 
the Northwest .Company would be destroyed 
or carried on only at and immense an ruinous 
expenditure of capital. 

Governor Macdonnell took immediate 
steps to follow up his proclamation by seiz- 
ing provision-stores of the Northwest Com- 
pany, and trouble ensued which led to open 
antagonism between the rival interests. 


The proclamation of Governor Macdonnell 
was posted throughout the district and also 
notices of it served on the officers in charge 
of liar posts of the Northwest Company. 

On the 15th March, 1814, a party of men 
at the Selkirk establishment was detailed 
to enforce the provisions of the proclama- 
tion. Arms were served out by John 

Spencer, who had been appointed sheriff by 
Governor Macdonnell, and the detachment 
was sent to the plain south of Pembina, 
near Turtle River, where a band ~~ 
of Freemen had accumulated a 
quantity of pemican and dried meat. 
When this armed body arrived on the scene 
(it will be noticed that no attention was 
paid to the fact that this place was in the 
United States) the Freemen were disposing 
of these provisions to some traders in the 
service of the Northwest Co. A Mr. War- 
ren and Michael Macdonnell had charge of 
the Selkirk people, and they at once order- 
ed their men to fix bayonets and load their 
muskets with ball cartridge. This done 
they by force seized the provisions and took 
them to the Selkirk Settlement. 

Again on the 5th of June Sheriff Spencer, 
with an armed force, proceeded to 
Brandon House, an establishment of 
the Northwest Co., and after cutting 
down some palisades entered the fort, broke 
open the doors of the warehouse and seized 
605 packages of pemican and other provis- 
ions, the product of the past season's hunt, 
which it was intended to transport to Lake 
Winnipeg and elsewhere to feed the voya- 
geurs from the vast inland districts en route 
to Fort William. 

It was for these acts of violence, the first \ 
which occurred in the district, that Gov. 
Miles Macdonnelland his sheriff, John Spen- 
cer, were afterwards arrested and sent down 
to Canada for trial under a warrant issued by 
A. N. McLeod, a justice of the peace for 
the Indian Territory, and a partner of the 
Northwest Company. 

A few weeks after the seizure of the pro- 
visions, the traders of the Northwest Com- 
pany began to arrive from the detached 
posts, only to find that no rations remained 
to accompany their brigades of boats to Fort 
William. Instead of asserting their su- 
periority by force of arms, they quitely 
conferred with Governor Macdonnell, and 
agreed to return during the next winter any 
quantity of provisions he would then give 
them to enable them to proceec to Lake 
Superior. Macdonnell accordingly handed 
over some of their own pemican, and 
they went on their journey to the 
great gathering of the Northwest Company, 
which took place annually at Fort William. 
Certainly the Northwesterns restrained 
their natural feelings in a wonderful man- 
ner in acting so moderately as they did 
under the circumstances. 


At the annual meeting of the partners at 
Fort William, it was decided to resist all 
future attempts of Gov. Macdonnell in inter- 
rupting the trade of the Northwest Com- ^ 
pany, and evidently they also arranged a 
scheme which, if successfully carried out, 
would break up the Selkirk colony by 
depopulating it. Duncan Cameron was 
sent to take charge of the Northwest Go's 



interests at Ft. Gibraltar, on the Red River, 
and Alexander McDonell was despatched in 
a like capacity to Brandon Brandon House 
and the Qu'Appelle river establishments. 

Arriving in August, 1814, at their posts 
they learned that in June, Gov- 
ernor Macdonnell had sent a party 
of 25 men, armed with muskets 
and bayonets, up the Assiniboine river, one 
day's journey from the colony, where, in 
expectation that the Northwest Co. would 
send down provisions by boats, they camped 
and planted a loaded cannon on the bank 
to force a surrender of the stores. They 
succeeded a few days afterwards in seizing 
90 sacks of pemican. the property of the 
North Westers, and in capturing some em- 
ployees, who were taken as prisoners to the 
settlement, but soon released. On this oc- 
casion some of the Selkirk people refused to 

strange that from the moment 
they arrived at York Factory this tale of 
the Indians attacking them had been dinned 
into their ears, first by the servants of the 
Hudson's Bay Co. (as written by Governor 
Macdounell himself), and at this time by the 
Northwest people. The truth is, that the 
Indians weie almost from the first extremely 
friendly to the settlers, hunting for them and 
later on offering to fight for them if neces- 


But Cameron was not allowed to thus 
entice away the colonists without resistance 
from Governor Macdonnell, who closely 
guarded the interests of his noble patron. 
On the 21st of October, 1814, two months 
aftei Cameron's arrival, Macdonnell issued 
and served the following notice: 


act as constables, giving as a reason that 
the North Westers had saved them from 
starving after their arrival at the settlement, 
and they were not going to make such a 
poor return. 


Duncan Cameron was, as I am informed 
by a Selkirk settler still living, "a fine old 
gentleman," much liked by the settlers. 
He at once afcer his arrival ingratiated him- 
self with the Selkirk settlers, invited them 
to dine with him, and during the winter, by 
promises of lands and employment for them 
' in Canada, he succeeded in inducing a 
number to consent to abandon the colony, 
and accept the offer made by the Northwest 
Co., of a free passage. It is alleged that he 
also frightened the settlers by pretending 
that he had information that the Indians 
would attack them during the next summer 
it they remained. It was a hard 
trial for the settlers, and it is 

"To Duncan Cameron, acting for the North- 
west company at the forks of the Red 
river : 

"Take notice that by the authority and on 
the behalf of your landlord, the Right Hon. 
Thomas, Earl of Selkirk, I do hereby warn 
you, and all your associates of the North west 
company, to quit the post and premises you 
now occupy at the forks of the Red river 
within six calendar months from the date 

Similar notices were served an the other 
Northwest Company's officers in charge of 
posts, and a very bitter feeling engendered in 
consequence. Towards spring several col- 
lisions took place between the men of the 
two companies, each side claiming to be 
innocent of the charges made by the other. 


Duncan Cameron had arrested Sheriff 



Spencer in the autumn and sent him down to 
Rainy Lake, and on the 3rd April, 1815, 
during the temporary absence of Miles Mac- 
donnell from the setclement, he notified 
Archibald McDonald, who was acting for 
the governor, to hand over to the settlers 
the cannon "which had already been em- 
ployed to disturb the peace of his Majesty's 
loyal subjects in this quarter," not with a 
view of making any hostile use of them, but 
to place them out of harm's way. He had 
by this time seduced the majority of the 
settlers from Gov. Macdonnell, and on 
leaving this matter to them, the next morn- 
ing they broke open the Selkirk warehouse 
and forcibly took possession of the nine 
cannon stored there, and drew them on 
sleds to Fort Gibraltar. On Gov. Macdon- 
nell's return, which was shortly after the 
seizure of the cannon, he issued a warrant 
to search for and recover the stolen pro- 
perty, but Cameron would only permit 

ern Canada, where many of their descend- 
ants may now be found, residing principally 
in the counties of Elgin and Middlesex. 

After their departure the Northwesters 
so worked on the fears of the remaining 
settlers, numbering about fifty, that they 
became discouraged. Lord Selkirk's 
friends have stated that their horses were 
stolen, cattle driven away and their persons 
threatened with violence, so that about the 
25th of June (1815) most of them embarked 
in their boats and proceeded down the Red 
River and across Lake Winnipeg to Jack 
Fish River (now Norway House) where they 
remained until August, when they were 
joined by Colin Robertson and twenty voy- 
ageurs sent by Lord Selkirk from Montreal 
to assist the colonists. 


They returned to their old home on the 
19th August, when they found that most of 


four of the searching party to enter 
Fort Gibraltar and then refused to allow a 
search to be made, enforcing his refusal by 
arming his men to resist. Then a large 
number of the Selkirk colonists deserted the 
settlement and went over to the Northwest 
fort, and when one of their number was ar- 
rested by the Governor's warrant, the 
deserters, with the Northwest servants, 
rescued him by force. 


A series of petty hostilities were engaged 
in during the next month, and Governor 
Macdonnell was finally arrested under the 
wan ant issued by A. N. McLeod the 
autumn previous, and carried down to 
Montreal for trial, but on his arrival there 
the partners of the Northwest Co. decided 
not to prosecute him and he was liberated. 


In June 140 ol the Selkirk colonists 
packed up and were transported by the 
Northwest Company free of charge to \Vest- 

their houses had been destroyed. They 
re-occupied the remaining dwellings 
and exerted themselves to build 
anew as well as gather in the 
crops left standing, which luckily 
had been preserved by the Hudson's 
Bay Co.'s men, who remained on the spot to 
look after the trading interests of the Com- 
pany. Over 1500 bushels of wheat, some 
other grain, and a large stock of potatoes 
were house-1. It was at this time that the 
site of the residence of the Selkirk governor, 
with the buildings about it, was named 
Fort Douglas, after his lordship. 


Lord Selkirk's agents were working in 
Sutherlandshire, Scotland, and in the spring 
ot 1815 a large party of emigrants had been 
secured, the majority of them hailing from 
the Parish of Kildonan. Some of these people 
had sufficient ready money to pay over to 
his lordship the sum of 10 for passage to 
the Red river. Others, not so fortunate, 
agreed to engage as servants for the colony 




1. Fort Rouge built by LaVerandrye about 

The Forks built by Northwest Company 

about 1803. 

Fort Gibraltar built by Northwest Com- 
pany about 1806. 

Destroyed by Lord Selkirk's 
agents in 1816. Rebuilt by 
Northwest Company about 
1817; occupied by H. B. Co. 
after amalgamation with 
Northwest Company in 1821 
and on April 18th, 1822, its 
name was changed by Sir Geo. 
Simpson, the H. B. Co. gover- 
nor, to Fort Garry. 
Fort Garry, a new tort built by 
Governor Pelly, but destroyed 
by the great flood of 1826. It 
was rebuilt by Governer Pelly 
in 182G, and afterwards was 
used as buildings for a model 

2. H. B. Go's store.gorj perhaps fort. I n 

use prior to arrival of Selkirk colon- 
ists in 1812. 

3. Government House of the Selkirk Col- 

ony, afterwards (in the fall of 1815) 
it was named Fort Douglas. 1812- 

4. The last Fort Garry built by Governor 

Christie in 1835 36. 

5. Stables bailt for model farm about 1840. 

6. Grove of trees beside present residence of 

Ex-Mayor Logan, where Governor 
Semple and his party were buried 
after the Seven Oakes tragedy in 
June, 1816. 

7. Hudson's Bay Company's fort fpartly 

built by Peter Fidler in 1817,and fin- 
ished by James Sutherland in 1819. 
It was situated between McDermot 
and Notre Dame street east, a few 
hundred yards back from the bank of 
the Red River. It was in use cer- 
tainly in 1821, Joseph Bird being the 
chief factor in charge. 



until such time as they could pay off their 
indebtedness on this score. About seventy- 
two persons embarked at Stromness on 
board the Hedlow, which set sail on June 
17, 1815, in company with two ships of the 
Hudson's Bay Co., all the vessels being 
under the care of a sloop of war to protect 
them from the French privateers. The 
colonists were accompanied by James 
Sutherland, who, previous to their 
departure, had been an elder in 
the Established Church of Scotland, 
and had been duly licensed to marry, bap- 
tise, and perform the duties of a preacher 
and spiritual guide to the colonists. He 
remained at the settlement for two or three 
years and removed to Canada. Landing at 
York Factory on the 18th August, they 
immediately after set out on the arduous 
voyage of some 700 miles to the colony, 
which place they reached on the oth of 


With this last-mentioned party of settlers 
came Robert Somple, who bad, under a new 
arrangement for conducting their busi- 
ness in the territories, been ap- 
pointed governor in chief by 
the Hudson's Lay Co. He was from all 
accounts a most amiable man and a warm 
friend of the colonists, whose interests he 
looked after to the best of his ability under 
the distressing circumstance that provisions 
were scarce and difficult to obtain. The 
colonists were again compelled to proceed to 
Fort Daer (Pembina) to winter, and on their 
arrival there found that the buffalo were far 
distant. Many of them proceeded on orer 
a hundred miles dtiringtne early winter to 
the locality where the Freemen and Indians 
were hunting the buffalo. A miserable 
winter was passed by the poor people, who, 
of course, were of little service in their new 
occupation of running the bison. Once 
more the M etis and Indian extended their 
hospitality to the Buffering colonists. 

Colin Robertson had been selected by 
Lord Selkirk to organize an expedition to 
the Athabasca in 1815, and that gentleman 
proceeded to Montreal and secured a large 
number of voyageurs to accompany him to 
that remote district, which was outside the 
bounds of the territory claimed by the 
Hudson's Bay Company as their exclusive 
preserve. The object of this move was to 
compete with the Northwest Co. in the fur 
trade of those regions, and if possible ruin 
them. This once gained, the fur trade of 
the whole Northwest would practically be 
left in their hands. Colin Robertson, how- 
ever, only accompanied his brigade as far 
Lake Winnipeg, where he met the Selkirk 
colonists evicted by Duncan Cameron and 
his men. He at once returned to the Red 
River with the colonists, as mentioned 
above, leaving the Athabasca expedition to 
proceed on its way. Of this ill-fated ex- 
pedition it is only necessary to say here 
that no preparation having been 

made for their reception at Athabasca, 
they were reduced to the utmost extremity 
for food, and while searching for provisions 
seventeen out of a party of eighteen 
starved to death. The survivors of the 
main body, in many cases, owed their lives 
to assistance rendered by the North 


Colin Robertson took an active part in 
the scenes enacted in the settlement during 
the winter of 1815-16. 

In October Robertson made a prisoner of 
Cameron and took him to Ft. Douglass, at 
the same time taking possession of Ft. Gib- 
raltar. The charge laid against Cameron 
was that ot having enticed away 
the colonists in the early part of 
the summer. Having detained him 
as a prisoner for some days, and searched 
his fort for the cannon and arms taken by 
the colonists from Fort Douglas the pre- 
vious spring, he was set at liberty. Gunn, 
in his history of Manitoba, informs us that 
on this occasion Cameron was horse- 
whipped while a loaded pistol was held to 
his head. 

In the early part of March, 1816, Govenor 
Semple left the settlement on a tour of in- 
spection of the posts of the Hudson's Bay 
Co., situated in the interior, and did 
not return until some time in June. 


As soon as Governor Semple disappeared, 
Colin Robertson, as acting governor, began 
to work mischief. On the night of the 17th 
of March, 1816, he headed an armed party 
from Fort Douglas, and broke into Fort 
Gibraltar, where, on entering the master's 
house, he found Duncan Cameron and his 
clerks. Making prisoners of them all, Rob- 
ertson proceeded to remove everything in 
the establishment down to Fort Douglas, 
the furs afterward being sent to York Fac- 
tory. On the 19th of March more men and 
cannon were placed in the Northwest 
fort, and, the winter express from 
the interior posts arriving, it was 
seized and the letters opened by Robertson. 
Finding it to be too much trouble to guard 
so many prisoners, the Selkirk people lib- 
erated most of the Northwest Co. s servants, 
who, at this most inclement, season, had to 
seek out friends amongst the Freemen on 
the plains to secure a living. 

Three days after this assault at Fort Gib- 
raltar, another armed body of the Selkirk 
people captured Fort Pembina, taking about 
ten prisoners and a very large quantity 
of provisions. At Pembina quantities 
of potatoes and other field vegetables 
were cultivated yearly by the Northwest 
Co. for the use of their posts, their fields 
having been first cultivated in 1801. The 
prisoners taken here were sent in bonds to 
Fort Douglas. 

Later on, in April, an attack was made 



011 the Northwest Company's fort at the 
Qu'Appelle River, but Alexander McDonel, 
who was in charge, gave the beseigers such 
a hot reception that they retired in bad 

Though the Northesters had offered no 
violence during these aggravated attacks 
of Robertson, Alexander McDonel, 
always known in the country as "White 
Headed McUonel," sent word appealing to 
the distant posts, urging the Northwesters 
to come to his assistiiice. He was aware 
that the guns of fort Douglas commanded 
the Red River and his ultimate capture, 

at York Cameron was placed on board ship 
for England, but owing to the lateness of 
the season had to be taken back to James 
Bay, where the crew wintered, but proceed- 
ed to London in the next summer (1817), 
where he was set at liberty, without trial, 
neither party desiring to take the case into 
an English court on account of the position 
of affairs at that time. Cameron afterwards 
returned to Canada. 


In the early part of April the Selkirk 
authorities razed Fort Gibraltar to the 


with that of all his provisions and furs, 
would follow an attempt to descend the 
Assiniboine from Q'uAppelle, and perceived 
that it was only by procuring a large force 
of men to assist him that he could carry his 
produce through to Fort William in the 
/Nspring. After gathering a party 
together he turned the tables 
on Robertson by capturing some 
Hudson's Bay Co.'s boats, laden with furs 
and pemican, as they descended the Assini- 
boine. Messengers carried news of this 
event to Fort Douglas and Colin Robertson 
started for York Factory in a boat, taking 
with him, as prisoner, Duncan Cameron. It 
may be here mentioned that on their arrival 

ground, carrying away the timbers to Fort 
Douglas to strengthen that establishment, 
and fire was set to the remains. To-day, 
in the river bank, at the point between the 
Red and Assiniboine rivers, where Fort 
Gibraltar stood, may be seen the charred 
wood, ashes and debris of the burnt fort. 

In April, also, the colonists returned by 
river from Pembina, and began the cultiva- 
tion of their patches of cleared land. It 
has been frequently referred to that while 
the colonists were but poorly supplied with 
agricultural teols, using vhe hoe instead of 
the plow, that care had been taken by Sel- 
kirk to send along cannon and muskets in 


This was the state of affairs up to the 
middle of June, 1816, when a most deplor- 
able and atrocious act was committed, 
which again broke up the colony and sent a 
score of men to their graves. 


On Governor Semple's return to Fort 
Douglas, from visiting the inland posts of 
the Hudson's Bay Co., in June, 1816, he 
again assumed the direction of affairs, which 
had been temporarily managed by Colin 
Robertson. That he did not altogether ap- 
prove of the management during his 
absence is learned from the testi- 
mony of an eye-witness, yet liv- 
ing, in the person of Donald Murray, who 
informs me that Robertson was in great 
disfavor with the Settlement and Hudson's 
Bay Co. officials, and when, on hearing of 
the probability of an attack by the North- 
westers, he started for York Factory in a 
boat, taking Duncan Cameron, a prisoner, 
he insultingly hoisted a pemican sack as an 
ensign instead of the British flag, which 
was the usual one used on such occasions. 

Word was received at the settlement that 
the Northwesters were determined to de- 
stroy both it and the settlers. On the 17th 
of June, Peguis, chief of the Swampy In- 
dians, residing in the district about the 
mouth of the Red river, waited en Governor 
Semple to offer the services of his men, 
some seventy in number, to assist in 
protecting the colonists. This proffered 
assistance was declined with thanks by 
Semple, who did not foresee the occurrences 
of the succeeding two days. 

Alex. McDonel sent a party of about sixty 
Canadians and half-breeds with a few 
Indians, mounted on horseback and bearing 
some provisions, across by land from the 
Assiniboine, to the Red river, the route 
followed faking them along the edge of the 
swamps, about two miles out on the prairie 
from Fort Douglas, and from that point 
gradually drawing nearer to the mam high- 
way, which is now the northern continua- 
tion of Winnipeg's Main street, until it 
joined the latter at a spot known as "Seven 
Oaks," on account of seven oak trees grow- 
ing there, within a hundred yards or so 
south of a small coolie, now called Inkster's 
creek. One half of the Metis had arrived 
at the coolie and passed on to Frog Plain 
(Kildonan church prairie), taking two or 
three settlers prisoners to prevent their 
giving the alarm, when the remainder were 
discovered by a sentinel, placed in the 
watch tower of Fort Douglas, with a tele- 
scope. He immediately gave an alarm, and 
Governor Semple left the fort with a small 
party of company's servants to intercept 
the Metis, whom he met at Seven Oaks as 
they arrived at the highway. Semple had 
by this time, been joined by some of his 
servants and officials, so that he arrived on 
the scene with about 28 companions. 

It is difficult to get at the exact truth of 
what followed this meeting of the rival 
traders. A host of affidavits are on record 
made by men on both sides, who, while 
agreeing in the main particulars, disagree as 
to details. However, herewith is given a 
version of the affair emanating from each side. 
The first is an affidavit made by John 
Pritchard, who had been in the service of 
both the X Y and Northwest companies, 
but in 1816 was a resident of the Selkirk 
settlement. He was the father of the Rev. 
S. Pritchaid, and grandfather of the Rev. 
Canon Matheson, of this city. 

"On the afternoon of the 19th of June, 
1816, a man in the watch-house called out 
that the half-breeds were coming. The', 
governor, some other gentlemen and myself 
looked through spy-glasses, and I distinctly 
saw some armed people on horseback pass- 
ing along the plains. A man then called 
out, 'They (meaning the half-breeds) are 
making for the settlers,' on which the gov- 
ernor said, 'We must go out and meet these 
people; let twenty men follow me.' We 
proceeded cown the old road leading down 
the settlement. As we were going along we 
met many of the settlers running to the fort, 
crying, 'The half-breeds ! the half-breeds !' 
When we were advanced about three-quar- 
ters of a mile along the settlement, we saw 
some people on horseback behind a point of 
woods. On our nearer approach the party 
seemed more numerous, on which the gov- 
ernor made a halt and sent for a field piece, 
which, delaying to arrive, he ordered us to 
advance. We had not proceeded far before 
the half-breeds, on horseback, with their 
faces painted in the most hideous manner, 
and in the dresses of Indian warriors, came 
forward and surrounded us in the form of a 
half moon. We then extended our line and 
moved more into the open plain, and as 
they advanced we retreated a few steps 
backward, and then saw a Canadian named 
Boucher ride up to us waving his hand and 
calling out, "What do you want?" The 
governor replied, 'What do yon want?' To 
which Boucher answered, 'We want our 
fort.' The governor said, 'Go to : your 
fort.' They were by this time near each 
other, and consequently spoke too low for 
me to hear. Being at some little distance 
to the right of the governor, I saw him take 
hold of Boucher's gun, and almost immedi- 
ately a general discharge of fire arms took 
place, but whether it began on our side, or 
that of the enemy, it was impossi- 
ble to distinguish. My attention was then 
directed towards my personal defence. 
In a few minutes almost all our people were 
either killed or wounded. Captain Rogers, 
having fallen, rose up again and came to- 
wards me' when, not seeing one of our party 
who was net either killed or disabled, I 
called out to him, 'For God's sake give 
yourself up !' He ran towards the enemy for 
that purpose, myself following him. He 
raised up his hands, and, in English, and 



broken French, called for mercy. A half- 
breed (son of Col. William McKay) shot 
him through the head, and another cut open 
his belly with a knife with the most horrid 
imprecations. Fortunately for me, a Cana- 
dian (named Lavigne), Joining his entreaties 
to mine, saved me (though with the greatest 
difficulty) from sharing the fate of my friend 
at that moment. After this I was reserved 
from death, in the most providential man- 
ner, no less than six different times on my 
way to and at the Frog Plain (the head- 
quarters of these cruel murderers), I there 
saw Alexander Murray and his wife, two 
of William Bannerman's children and Alex- 
ander Sutherland, settlers, and likewise 
Antony McDonnell, a servant, were prison- 
ers, having been taken before the action 
took place. With the exception of myself, 
nc quarter was given to any of us. 
The knife, axe or ball, put a period to the 
existence of the wounded; and on the bodies 
of the dead were practiced all those barbar- 
ities which characterize the inhuman heart 
of the savage. The amiable and mild Mr. 
Semple, lying on his side (his thigh having 
been broken) and supporting his head upon 
his hand, addressed the commander of our 
enemies, by inquiring if he was Mr. Grant; 
and being answered in the affirmative, 'I 
am not mortally wounded,' said Mr. Sem- 
ple; 'and if you get me conveyed to the 
fort, I think I should live. ' Grant promised 
he would do so, and immediately left him 
in the care of a Canadian, who afterwards 
told that an Indian of their party came up 
and shot Mr. Semple in the breast. I en- 
treated Grant to procure me the watch, or 
even the seals, of Mr. Semple, for the pur- 
pose of transmitting them to his friends, 
but I did not succeed. Our force amounted 
to twenty-eight persons, of whom twenty- 
one were killed and one wounded, the 
governor, Captain Rogers, Mr. James 
'"hite, surgeon, Mr. Alexander McLean, 
settler, Mr. Wilkinson, private secretary to 
the governor, and Lieutenant Holt, of the 
Swedish navy, and fifteen servants were 
killed. Mr. J. P. Bourke, storekeeper, v>as 
wouuvled, but saved himself by flight. 
The enemy, I am told, were sixty-two 
persons, the greater part of whom were the 
contracted seivanta and clerks of the North- 
west company. They had one man killed, 
and one wounded. The chiefs, who headed 
the party of our enemy, were Messrs. Grant 
and Fraser, Antoine Hoole and Bourrassa; 
the two former clerks and the two latter 
interpreters, in the service of the Northwest 

The above declaration and the following 
are published in a book entitled "State- 
ment respecting the Earl of Selkirk's set- 
tlement, etc.," written by Selkirk's rela- 
tive, a Mr. Halkett, a director of the Hud- 
son's Bay Co. committee, and it is from this 
source that most historians have drawn 
their information relating t9 the Selkirk 
side of the case. 

The man named Boucher, mentioned by 
Pritchard in his affidavit, was taken as a 
prisoner to Montreal, and while there made 
the following declaration, on the 29th Ang., 
1816, before a justice of the peace: 

"Voluntary declaration of Francois Fir- 
min Boucher, accused on oath of having, on 
the 19th of last June, killed at the colony 
of the Red River, twenty-one men, ainoiit.' 
whom was Gov. Semnle, says: 'That he 
did not kill any person whatever; that he 
was sent, four days before the death of Gov- 
ernor Semple, by one of the partners of the 
Northwest Company, Mr. Alexander Mc- 
Donell, from Portage la Prairie, to carry 
provisions to Frog Plain, about three leagues 
lower than the fort at the Forks of Red 
River. That he and his companions, to 
avoid being seen by the Hudson's Bay set- 
tlers, passed at a distance from the Hud 
son's Bay fort. That, with a view of 
weakening the Hudson's Bay party, the 
Bois-Brutes wanted to carry away some of 
the Hudson's Bay settlers and, assisted by 
the deponent to interpret for them in Eng- 
lish, they went and carried one oft. That, 
as they proceeded towards Frog Plain, they 
observed a group of Hudson's Bay people 
upon which a certain number of the men in 
the service of the Northwest Company, 
called Bois-Brules, joined the deponent and 
his companions. That these, thinking the 
Hudson's Bay people meant them harm, (be- 
cause they advanced with their muskets in 
their hands) the Bois-Brules wanted to fire 
on them; but the deponent opposed their 
doing so. That at last he advanced alone 
to the Hudson's Bay party to speak to 
them, and came so near Governor Semple, 
that the latter took hold of the butt end of 
the deponent's gun, and ordered his 
people to advance; that they, not 
obeying him, and the deponent saying 
that if they fired they were all dead men. 
Governor Semple sai.l that they must not 
be afraid, that this was not a time for it. 
and that they must fire. Immediately the 
deponent heard the reports of two muskets 
fired by the Hudson's Bay people. That at 
this moments the deponent threw himself 
from his horse, still holding the mane, and 
that the horse being afraid, dragged him in 
this manner about the distance of a gun 
shot, where he remained. That, from the 
moment when he was thus carried away by 
his horse, the firing became general between 
the people of the No-thwest and the Hud- 
son's Bay. That the fire was begun by 
those of the Hudson's Bay. That the men 
in the service of the Northwest Company 
were about sixty-four in number (of whom 
thirty were at the beginning of the firing, I 
assembled for the purpose of taking the 
Hudson's Bay fort by famine. He is ui** 
certain, by whose orders, but supposes it 
was by the chiefs, that is, Mr. McDonell, 
Mr. Grant, Antonie Oulle and Michael 
Bourassa. That he heard Mr. McDonell 
enjoin them to avoid a meeting with the 


Hudson's Bay people. That after the firing 
was over he saw a Bois-Brule naniec" Vas- 
seur near Governor Seniple, then wounded 
in the knee and the arm, who 
was taking care of him, and 
who, notwithstanding, had taken his belt or 
sash, his pistols and his watch, and after- 
wards carried them away. That he him- 
self had at the moment saved one Pritchard 
from being killed, and also Francois Des- 
champs and several other Bi'ules wanted to 
kill him." 

Mai>y of the settlers are of the opinion 
that the first shot fired was by Lieut. Holt, 
whose gun went off by accident, thus pre- 
cipitating the conflict. 

In all 21 persons were killed, the remain- 
ing eight escaping into the woods, which at 
that time extended from the highway to 
the river bank, and making the.r way to 
Fort Douglas, one or two swimming the 
Red River and passing up the east side 
until opposite the fort. It is to be noticed 
that only one actual settler was 

At the fort all was confusion, the settlers 
men, women and children crowding 
into the houses within its walls. Mr. 
Bourke managed to regain the fort with the 
cannon and a small remnant of the men he 
took out, and the tale they told struck 
terror into the hearts of all, who expected 
an attack would be made immediately by 
the Northwesters. An anxious night was 
passed, but no attack came, the Bois Brules 
having a wholesome dread of the cannon 
possessed by the colonists. 

John Pritchard had been taken as a pris- 
oner to the camp ground of the main body 
of the Metis, which was situated where the 
Kildonan ferry landing now is, I am in- 
formed by Mr. Donald Murray, whose 
parents had also been taken prisoners on 
their farm, two lots above that point, on 
the morning of the tragedy. He begged 
of Cuthbert Grant, the leader, to be allowed 
to go to Fort Douglas. After obtaining 
permission from Grant, he met with a re- 
fusal from the rest of the party; but after 
giving a promise to return, and agreeing to 
bear a message to the fort people that they 
must leave the next day for Lake Winni 
peg, lie was allowed to depart. Grant ac- 
companied him as far as Seven Oaks, where 
the bodies of the killed lay upon the ground, 
but as it was after nightfall when he passed 
there, he was spared the sight of the horrible 

Arriving at Fort Douglas, he informed the 
settlers that the Metis demanded that the 
colonists should depart, and had promised 
that if all public property was given up to 
them, they would give a safe escort to the 
people and allow them to take all their per- 
sonal effects. Two other parties of North- 
westers were daily expected to arrive in the 
Red River, one coming from the Saskatche- 
wan and the other from Lake Superior, and 
it would be necessary to send some of the 

Bois-Brules with them to explain the posi- 
tion of affairs. 

The colonists at first refused to agree to 
the terms of capitulation, and Sheriff Mc- 
Donell, who was in charge ot the settle- 
ment, decided to hold to the fort as long as 
the men were inclined to protect it. In the 
morning, however, after they had more 
fully considered their situation, the settlers 
concluded to depart, and after several visits 
of the sheriff to the Metis camp an arrange- 
ment was agreed on. 


A number of Indians under Peguis were 
camped on the east side of the river and 
took no part in the troubles, but their sym- 

s,thies were plainly with the colonists, 
hey went out the morning after the en 
gagement and brought in the bodies of the 
killed, or as many as could then be found, 
for a small number, I am informed by 
eye-witnesses, were concealed in the 
heavy brush in the vicinity, as 
wounded men had crawled into 
thickets and there died. Mrs. Kauf- 
man, who yet lives in Kildonan east, in- 
forms me that she saw the Indians bring in 
the dead bodies to Fort Douglas with carts, 
and that Governor Semple and the doctor 
were buried in board coffins, and the others 
wrapped up in blankets, the whole number 
being interred in one large grave in a grove 
of trees on the south side of the creek 
southwest of the fort, and quite near the 
spot whereon now stands the residence of 
ex-Mayor Logan. She says the body of one 
man was naked, the clothes having been 
stolen before the Indians found it. Mr. 
Donald Murray also informs me that when 
the burial took place, Chief Pegins stood 
near by, with the tears streaming down his 
face, and he repeatedly expressed his great 
sorrow at the sad occurrences taking place. 
Donald Murray states positively that all 
these bodies were removed, some yeais 
after, to St. John's church graveyard, but 
he is not now able to locate the site of their 
reinterment. He remembers distinctly that 
on the morning the settlers handed over the 
fort to the metis, all the ammunition for 
the cannon was carried down to the river 
and thrown into the water from the end of 
a boat moored in the stream. 


An inventory of the Hudson's Bay Co. s 
property being taken, Cuthbert Grant gave 
a receipt on each page, worded as follows: 
"Received on account of the Northwest 
company by me, Cuthbert Grant, clerk for 
the Northwest company, acting for the N. 
W. company." 

In two days all was ready, nnd the col- 
onists, to the number of nearly two hun- 
dred, embarked in their boats and once 
more started for Jackfish House, at the 
north end of Lake Winnipeg. It would ap 
pear that more or less plundering of the 



effects of the settlers took place before their 

On reaching the neighborhood of Netley 
Creek, the exiles and their escort of Metis 
met about one hundred Northwesters, under 
the command of A. N. McLeod, a partner 
of the Northwest Company, who had just 
arrived in a number of canoes 
from Ft. William to assist Duncan 
Cameron and Alexander McDonel, 
the evident intention being to retaliate for 
the taking of the Northwest forts during 
the paevious winter, and to evict the colon- 
ists and destroy the settlement. McLeod 
was a justice of the peace for the Indian 
territories and had also been gazetted a 
major in the British army in 1814, when 
commanding a corps of voyageurs raised by 
the Northwest Company during the Ameri- 
can war. He issued warrants and subpoenas 
for Pritchard, Bourke and three others, all 
of whom were taken down to Fort William. 
Gunn is authority for the statement that 
the Northwest partners spoke kindly to the 
colonists and urged them to go to Canada, 
offering them a free passage, but the major- 
ity of the disheartened settlers had resolved 
to return to Scotland and overruled the de- 
sire of a minority to accept the proposition 
of the Northwesters. After a short deten- 
tion at Netley creek the colonists re- 
embarked and proceeded on to Jackfish 
liver (Norway House), where they arrived 
safely, remaining there until the winter, 
when, after Lord Selkirk's successes at Fort 
William in 1816 and the capture of Fort 
Douglas by his people in the spring of 1817, 
they returned once more to the Red river. 

Leaving the posts on the Red and Assini- 
boiiie rivers in the hands of their people the 
partners of the Northwest Company started 
on their return to Fort William, 
and on their way down the Red river 
met the partners and brigades from the 
north. These people had reached La Bas 
de la Riviere (Fort Alexander) only to find 
that no provisions had arrived from Pern- 
bina or Brandon House, and they at once 
startrd for the Red river to discover the 

Lord Selkirk had not been idle this 
spring, and at an even date with the de- 
struction of the colony, was taking active 
steps, in Canada, to reinforce his people in 
the Red River country, but his movements 
must be described at length. 


tumn of 1815 Lord Selkirk and 
his'family arrived in Montreal, where he 
was placed in full possession of information 
concerning the dispersion of his colonists 
at Red River during the previous summer, 
when Duncan Cameron had induced 160 of 
them to accept a free passage to Canada and 
driven the remaining 40 to Jackfish River. 
After bringing the matter before Sir Gordon 
Drummond, the governor of Lower Canada, 
and urging him to interfere with the North- 

westers without any more success than the 
English partners of the Northwest Co. had 
met with from the British government 
when they had petitioned against the ac- 
tion of Lord Selkirk in the Red River coun- 
try, his lordship proceeded to raise a force 
of men, trained to arms, which he intended 
to convey to Assiniboia. At this time sev- 
eral regiments of mercenaries, which had 
been recruited in Germany and 
other continental countries, were being dis- 
banded in Canada, the American war being 
closed, and there taking place a large re- 
duction in the number of troops serving in 
Canada. Lord Selkirk enlisted in his own 
service at Montreal 4 officers and 80 men 
of the De Meuron regiment, and at Kings- 
ton 20 men of the Watteville regiment. These 
men, fully armed and clothed in the uni- 
forms of the British army, were reinforced 
by more than an equal number of voya- 

Lord Selkirk was appointed a justice of 
the peace both for Upper Canada and the 
Indian Territories, and a bodyguard of a 
sergeant and some soldiers of the 37th 
Regiment was allowed him by the Governor 
after a statement that he expected an at- 
tempt would be made to assassinate him. 
That doubts were entertained by the 
authorities as to the use his lordship inten- 
ded to make of this detachment may be 
learned by an examination of the ordei s 
given to the soldiers, one part of which 
reads as follows: "You are particularly 
ordered not to engage yourself, or the party 
under your command, in any dispute 
which may occur between the Earl of Sel- 
kirk, his engagees and employees, and those 
of the Northwest company, or to take any 
part or share in any affray which may arise 
out of such disputes. By such interference 
on your part you would not only be disobey- 
ing your instructions, but acting in direct 
opposition to the wishes and instructions of 
the government, to the countenance, sup- 
port and protection of which each party has 
an equal claim. The Earl of Selkirk has 
engaged to furnish the party under your 
command with provisions during the time 
of your absence. You are on no occasion 
to separate from your party, but to return 
with his lordship, and on no account to 
suffer yourself or any of your detachment to 
be left at any settlement or post in the 
Indian country." 

All being in readiness, this formidable 
body started via Toronto, Lake Simcoe and 
Georgian bay for the Red River settlement 
some time in June, 1816. 

A month before this date Miles Macdon- 
nell, the ex -governor of Assiniboia, who had, 
as a prisoner, been sent down to 
Montreal by the Northwest partners 
in the summer of 1815, had preceded 
Lord Selkirk, with several canoes belonging 
to the Hudson's Bay Company, and pushed 
through to the interior, arriving at Lake 
Winnipeg shortly after the Semplc tragedy. 



v^,_ J 

[AITOGUAPHS from Original Dot-uments Now in Mr. Bell's Possession.) 


He immediately returned to Lake .Superior, 
and in the latter part of July met Lord 
Selkirk with his force near SaultSte. Marie. 
His Lordship at once decided to push on to 
Fort William, the stated original intention 
having been to reach Assiniboia via Fond 
du Lac (,) Red Lake and down the 
Red River, a route frequently followed by 
the Northwesters in the early days of the 
fur trade, but this would have been impos- 
sible with the boats passed by Lord Sel- 
kirk, and it is most probable that he had 
always intended to seize Fort William, and 
the present position of affairs afforded an 
excellent pretext. 

Before leaving Sault Ste. Marie his lord- 
ship wrote Sir John Sherbrooke that he in- 
tended to interfere as a justice of the peace, 
and arrest the perpetrators of the outrage. 
If he had heard of the action of his own 
people in the Red River country during the 
preceding spring, when they destroyed the 
forts of the Northwesters, seized their per- 
sons and provisions, and erected batteries 
of cannon on the banks of the rivers to pre- 
vent the passage of their boats, he care- 
fully omits any mention of them in his com- 
munications to the Canadian authorities, 

The Northwesters at Fort William, in the 
early spring, had received intelligence of 
the seizure of their provisions and destruc- 
tion of forts Gibraltar and Pembiua, and 
A. N. McLeod was despatched with about 
60 men in light canoes to protect their in- 
terests in that quarter and carry in provis- 
ions to supply the brigades from the north. 
As before related, this party arrived immedi- 
ately after the killing of Semple and his 
men. McLeod evidently sympathized with 
Cuthbert Grant in the way he had managed 
aftdirs, for he made presents to the Metis 
who had been engaged in the fight. 

On the 12th August (1816) Lord Selkirk 
arrived at the Kaministiquia and passing up 
the river he encamped on the east side half 
a mile above Fort William. 

The Northwesters were busily engaged 
in making ready for the interior the outfits 
of goods intended for the winter's trade. 
The Northwesters claim to have had 
fully 500 men collected there at that 
date, the post being tne great meeting 
point where the brigades arriving from 
Montreal landed their merchandise and re- 
ceived in return the bales of furs brought 
down from the interior posts, which were 
strungo along in lines reaching to 
the /Pacific. Fort William itself con- 
sisted of a score of well 
constructed houses used as officers', clerks', 
and men's quarters, messrooms, stores, pow- 
der magazine, workshops, etc., etc., the 
whole being surrounded by a palisade fully 
lo ft. in height with a watch tower over the 
gate. It was built in 1803, when the com- 
pany moved their headquarters from Grand 
Portage, which place was in the United 
States south of the international boundary. 
It was named after William McGillivray, a 

chief partner of the Northwest Co:npanv. 

Lord Selkirk had no sooner encamped 
than cannon were landed and pointed at 
Fort William, while a demand was made 
on Win. McGillivray, who was in charge, 
for the release of John Pritchard and others 
of the Hudson's Bay Co.'s people then in 
the fort. These were immediately allowed 
to depart, McGillivray stating that he did 
not hold them as prisoners, but that two 
other persons whom he had arrested were on 
their way to Montreal for trial. 

From Pritchard, Nolin and others of his 
rescued people his lordship procured the 
details of the events which happened 
at the settlement, and he issued a warrant 
for the arrest of Wm. McGillivray. 


This warrant was served the next day on 
Mr. McGillivray in the fort, and without 
hesitation he went over to the Selkirk 
camp, accompanied by K. McKenzie, 
another partner, and Donald McLaughlin, 
the party being received at the Forl Wil- 
liam landing by a guard of 20 soldiers, and 
on their arrival at the Selkirk landing they 
were met by the soldiers of the 37th Regi- 
ment under arms, who conducted them to 
Lord Selkirk. When one remembers the 
instructions given to the men of the 37th 
Regiment, it seems that this was a very ir- 
regular proceeding; but Selkirk's object 
clearly was to impress on the Northwesters 
the idea that he was acting with the assent 
of the Canadian Governor. 

McGillivray s friends offered bail, but 
were informed that they also were prisoners 
charged, like all the partners of the North- 
west Company present at the annual meet- 
ing of 1814, with being responsible for the 
troubles at Red River. Warrants were 
issued for the arrest of other Northwest 
officials, the mode of executing which are 
best described by two officers of the De 
Meuron regiment, who had left Montreal in 
May on leave of absence with McLeod and 
other partners of the Northwest Company, 
to witness the occurrences that would fol- 
low Lord Selkirk's advent with his armed 
force, so that the authorities would receive 
an impartial account from disinterested pei- 


"Charles Brumby, lieutenant in His Maj- 
esty's Regiment de Meuron, and John Theo- 
dore Misani, also lieutenant in the same 
regiment, respectfully depose and say: That 
in the beginning of May last, they left 
Montreal, in company with Messrs. Alex- 
ander McKenzie, Archibald Norman Mc- 
Leod, and Robert Henry, on a journey to 
the Indian Territories in North America, 
that being arrive.} at the distance of about 
titty miles from the forks of the Red river, 
in the Indian Territories, on the 23rd of 
June last, in the morning, they met a num- 
ber of persons coming from that place, 


among whom were several of the colonists 
of the settlement of Lord Selkirk, who in- 
formed them that a battle had been fought 
between the colonists and the half-breed 
Indians, at the distance of a mile and a half 
below the fort on the place of residence of 
Robert Semple, Esquire, agent of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company (called by them. Gover- 
nor Semple), at the forks of the Red river, 
and they understood this battle was fought 
on the 19th of the said month; that the de- 
ponents proceeded until they reached 
the place where they understood that 
the said Robert Semple had a post 
or establishment, and there saw a number 
of Indians (called half-breeds) and other 
Indians assembled there; and that the de- 
ponents remained there but a few hours, 
and returned to Riviere aux Morts (Netley 
''reek. Ed. ), situated at the distance of 
about 54 miles from the said forks of the 
Red River, on their way back to Fort Wil- 
liam, that on their arrival at Riviere aux 
Morts they saw John McDonald, who was 
arriving from his wintering grounds, and 
also Simon Frazer, who arrived in canoes; 
that these two persons could not have been 
coming troin Red River, if they had come 
by water from that quarter; and that the 
said John McDonald gave these deponents 
directions to take some of his provisions on 
their return to Fort William, at a place he 
pointed out to them; that they also met at 
the same place John McLaughlin, whom 
they had left at Fort William when they 
passed it; that they met John McGillivray 
in Lake Minipic (Winnipeg. Ed.) on the 
27th clay of the said month, as they were 
going to Fort William, coming, as it ap- 
peared to these deponents, and as 
he informed them, from his winter- 
ing quarters that the several 
persons above - named appeared to 
be entirely ignorant of what had 
taken place at the forks of the Red River 
on the 1 9th of June, and these deponents 
verily believe that they were not, and could 
not have been at that place at the time; 
that these deponents were informed that 
the persons concerned in the Northwest 
trade generally received their provisions at 
a place called La bas de la Riviere, that is, 
the entry of the River Winipic, and that 
the reason of several of them going up the 
river as far as the Riviere aux Morts was 
their disappointment in not receiving their 
provisions at the usual place; that when 
these deponents left Montreal, on the 1st or 
2nd of May last, they saw Mr. William 
McGillivray at that place, and they found 
him at Fort William on their return from 
Red river, where they arrived on the 10th 
of July last; that on the 13th day of 
August the deponents, being at Fort Wil- 
liam, saw two of the boats that had come 
thr preceding day with a party of men 
under the Earl of Selkirk; that these two 
boats were full of soldiers; that D'Orson- 
nens was in the first boat and Lieut. Fauche 

in the second: that on their landing near 
, the gate of the fort a person of the name of 
McNabb and another person of the name of 
Allen, both of whom had come in the said 
boats, approached the gate of the fort with 
Capt. D'Orsonnens, who was armed with a 
sword and pistol, and there spoke to seve-al 
of the partners of the Northwest Company, 
who stood at the gate; that some words 
passed between them, and these deponents 
heard some of the Northwest Company say: 
"Yes, but we cannot admit so many people 
in the fort at once. " That one-half ot the 
gate was then shut partly. That immedi- 
ately on uttering the above mentioned 
words Capt. D'Orsonnens called to the men 
in the boats, "en evant, aux armes, vites!'' 
upon which the men in the boats jumped 
out, and, with muskets and fixed bayonets, 
rushed into the fort, a bugle at the same 
time sounding the advance; that a number 
of the men (voyageurs) in the service of the 
Northwest Co., who stood near the gate, 
ran towards their encampment; that these 
deponents observed several of the soldiers 
dragging Mr. John McDonald towards the 
boats, swearing at him, and using violence, 
and heard him cry out, ''don't muraer me." 
That these deponents entered the fort, 
where they saw Mr. Allen, and asked him 
the cause of .such proceedings, who answer- 
ed that all would be soon explained, and 
that the person who had ordered these 
measures would answer tor the conse- 
quences, or words to that effect; that a few 
minutes afterwards, Capt. Matthey arrived 
with a reinforcement of soldiers, which the 
deponents conceived to have been called for 
by the sound of the bugle; that there were 
two pieces of cannon in the fort, which the 
soldiers planted in the square, and pointed 
at the gate, and this armed 
party was immediately in possession 
of the fort, as no resistance whatever was 
offered them; that the deponents did not see 
any of the persons in the fort armed at the 
time it was so taken possession of by the 
said armed party; that on the same day the 
partners of the Northwest Company who 
were in the fort, nine in number, were ar- 
rested, and the deponents saw several of 
them conducted as prisoners out of the tort 
with a guard, and they returned about 
eight o'clock in the evening, and the next 
day they were put in close confinement, 
with sentries over them; that on the even- 
ing of the 13th the troops marched out of 
the fort, after having been assembled in the 
square by the sound of the bugle, with the 
exception of 20 men under the command of 
Lieutenant W. Gratfcnreid, who remained 
in the fort as a guard for the night; that 
sentries were posted in several places, and 
the place had the appearance of a military 
post; that the next morning Captain 
Matthey returned to the tort with a number 
of armed soldiers, and told Mr. \V m. Mc- 
Gillivray on his arrival that he had brought 
a reinforcement, as they understood that 



the gentlemen who had been arrested the 
preceding day, instead of confining them- 
selves to their own rooms, had been going 
about, and that arms had been preparing, or 
words to that effect; chat a short 
time after the Earl of Sel- 
kirk appeared to take command ; 
and some days after, he took his quarters in 
a house formerly occupied by the gentle- 
men of the Northwest Co., and some of his 
people were also quartered in other apart- 
ments and buildings within the fort. That 
the deponents also understood that on the 
following days the books and papers of the 
Northwest Co. had been sei/ed and searched, 
and saw at one time, Mr. Allen, Mr. Mc- 
Nabb, Mr. McPherson and Capt. D'Orson- 
nens, searching for papers and sealing up 
trunks in different rooms. The deponents 
also saw some of the soldieis employed in 
making gun carriages in a workshop, form- 
erly used by the carpenters and men of the 
Northwest Co. That on the 22nd of Aug- 
ust a canoe arrived from Montreal with dis- 
patches, that the papers or despatches the 
men brought were taken away from them, 
and the canoe searched: that some of the 
things in it were placed in charge of a 
soldier of the 37th regiment, one of the 
bodyguard of the said Earl of Selkirk: that 
it appears to these deponents, that from the 
taking of the fort, as above mentioned, un- 
til the time the deponents left it, the trade 
and business of the Northwest Co. was en- 
tirely stopped: that the deponents under- 
stood the Northwest Co. were not allowed 
to send any goods or furs out of the fort, 
nor could they employ the men in their ser- 
vice, some of whoine were destined to go 
into the interior of the country with goods 
and ammunition for the natives, and to sup- 
ply their different trading posts; others to 
go down to Montreal with furs and other 
articles for exportation, as the deponents 

(Signed) CHARLES BRUMBY, Lieut. 

Sworn at Montreal the 16th of Sept., 

Lieut. Fauche, one of Selkirk's UeMeu- 
ron officers who returned from Ft. William, 
and which came under his notice, entirely 
agrees with that given above. 


The partners of the Northwest company 
being confined as prisoners, signed a solemn 
protest to the acts committed by Selkirk 
and his armed associates, the persons sign- 
ing being Win. McGillivray, Kenneth 
Mackenzie, John Macdonell, John Mc- 
Laughlin, Hugh McGillis, and Daniel 
Mackenzie. It is needless to say that no 
attention was paid to this protest. Lord 
Selkirk took possession of all the stores and 
merchandisp of the Northwest company as 
a means to destroy their business which he 
now had the means of doing, the chiefs 
of the company being in his 

hands. No outfits were allow- 
_ ed to be taken into the 

interior. Two clerks were nominated by 
the Northwest partners to look after their 
interests; but Selkirk gave them no satis- 
faction, and finally refused to confer with 
them. One of these clerks, named Yanders- 
luys, afterwards made affidavits of what 
transpired, and I am informed by an old 
settler that some years after he came into 
collision with Mr. Halkett, brother-in-law 
of Selkirk, who wounded him with a pistol 
in Montreal. 

Lord Selkirk's friends have written a 
great deal in attempting to prove that he 
was most careful in keeping within the law 
in all his proceedings, but no explanation 
is given of the use lie made of the soldiers 
of the 37th Regiment who had received 
such strict orders to remain neutral at all 
times and in all situations. 


On the 18th of August Lord Selkirk 
placed the prisoners in charge oJ Lieut. 
Faucbe and shipped them off to Canada. 
Unfortunately, when Hearing Sault Ste. 
Marie, one of their boats was swamped in a 
squall, and nine persons, out of the twenty- 
one it contained, were drowned, K. Me- 
Kenzie being one of the lost. Arriving at 
York (Toronto), the Governor directed that 
the prisoners should be taken to Kingston, 
where the Attorney-General and judges were 
then on circuit. At Kingston the judges 
directed them to be taken to Montreal, and 
on arriving there they were all released on 
bail. The crimes charged against them 
were no less than high treason, conspiracy 
and murder. 

Lord Selkirk, after the departure of the 
partners, fitted out canoes belonging to the 
Northwesters with property found in the 
fort, and having seduced some employes and 
coerced others, sent them inland to the 
Hudson's Bay Company's posts. 


Wm. McGillivray, after his release on 
bail, secured warrants for the arrest of Sel 
kirk, Capt. Matthey, and some others, for 
their high-handed acts in seizing the North- 
west Company's property in Upper Canada 
(Fort William being within Canada and far 
east of the Indian territories.) A deputy- 
sheriff with a posse was sent up to Fort 
William, and arrested Selkirk and the other 
persons named in the warrants, but they 
called in the ever-ready De Meurons, who, 
with fixed bayonets, tinned the tables by 
making the law officers prisoners, and after- 
wards ejected them from the fort. Selkirk 
refused to recognize the warrants, and went 
on seizing all the establishments of the 
Northwesters about Lake Superior, and 
went so far as to take possession of the 
goods and furs stored in the post at Fond 
du Lac (Duluth), which being on American 
soil, had paid the U. S. customs duties. 


Here, also, prisoners were made and taken 
to Fort William. 


One party of Selkirk's men, under com- 
mand of Fidler went inland to Rainy Lake 
to the Northwest Co.'s post there (now Fort 
Francis) and demanded its surrender, but 
Dease, who was in charge, drove them off'. 
Selkirk then sent an officer and band of De 
Meurons with two cannon to invest the 
place, the officer informing Dease that if he 
did not surrender he could not be answer- 
able for the conduct of his soldiers. Run- 
ning short of provisions Dease had to cap- 
itulate and his post was turned into an 
establishment of Lord Selkirk, who removed 
some of the buildings across the. river to the 
U. S. side, apparently not feeling safe on 
the Canadian side, which was the territory 
of Upper Canada. This fort was the key to 
the whole Northwest Territories and its 
possession fully deprived the Northwesters 
of any chance of carrying on their trade 
from Lake Superior. 

This state of affairs continued during the 
winter. Lord Selkirk remained about Lake 
Superior, the Northwesters held Fort Doug- 
las and the Red river posts, and the Selkirk 
colonists wintered at Jack Fish River at 
the north end of Lake Winnipeg, but in the 
early spring a general activity was mani- 
fested by all parties. 


In February (1817) Lord Selkirk, from 
his headquarters in the Northwest com- 
pany's Fort William, despatched Capt. 
D'Orsonnens with a large band of his sol- 
diers fully armed and equipped, to the 
Red River, the expedition going by way of 
the Rainy River, Lake of the W T oods, and 
from the Northwest Angle striking across 
the country by land in the direction of what 
is now known as the Dawson road, but ar- 
riving at a point on the Red River some 
distance south of the entrance of the As- 
siniboine. Following down the Red River 
the party diverged to the west and came 
to the Assiniboine in the neighborhood of 
St. James' parish, where they made scaling 
ladders and prepared to assault Fort Doug- 
las, then occupied by the Northwesters. 
Taking advantage of a wild stormy night, 
the leader, guided by friendly Indians and 
whites, marched to the fort and quietly 
placing the ladders in position scaled 
the walls and quickly overpowered 
the occupants. All the princi- 
pal inhabitants were made prisoners 
and the others were turned out to shift for 
themselves, which they did by going to the 
ten f s of their friends, the freemen, living 
along the banks of the Red and Assiniboine 

The fort taken, news was dispatched in 
all directions, and the exiled colonists at 
Jackfish river were informed that they 
miaht return to their homesteads, when 

they would be protected by the DeMeuron 
soldiers. A few colonists started at once on 
snowshoes for Fort Douglas, and arrived 
before the warm spring sun broke np the 
ice on the rivers and lakes, but it was not 
until June that the main party arrived on 
the site of their former homes, when they 
were joined by Lord Selkirk and his men 
from Fort William. 


To find food for such a large number of 
people taxed the energetic Selkirk, and the 
river was largely drawn on for the fish it 
contained, and from all accounts the poor 
colonists had a very hard time of it until 
the small quantity of seed they planted in 
the spring brought forth a harvest, which 
this year was an enormous one for the acre- 
age under crop. But the demand 
exceeded the supply, and in the 
autumn the settlers were again 
compelled to leave the settlement and pro- 
ceed to their old time winter quarters at 
Pembina, in order to be within reach of the 
buffalo. During the winter many of them 
were forced to travel on foot to the Mis- 
souri Coteau in search of food, the buffalo 
having disappeared from the country bor- 
dering on the Red River. 


Notwithstanding the frequent appeals 
made to it in England by the partners of 
the Northwest Company, and in Canada by 
Lord Selkirk, the British Government had 
invariably remained passive, and seemingly 
declined to interfere between the rival in- 
terests, or declare the legality or illegality 
of the claims of either party. The North- 
westers notified the Government that they 
held the claims of Lord Selkirk as illegal, 
and would resist to the utmost, by force if 
necessary, any attempt of his lordship to 
interfere with their trading operations. 

After calmly reviewing the whole circum- 
stances of the proceedings at Red River, 
one must arrive at the conclusion that 
neither party can be wholly blamed for the 
dire results of the actions of the chief 
officials on either side. Governor 
Miles Macdonnell, assuredly acting under 
the instructions of Lord Selkirk, annoyed 
the Northwesters in their trade, and fol- 
lowed it up by acts of violence to the per- 
sons and property of people employed by 
the Northwest Co. The Northwesters re- 
senting this, retaliated. The crowning act 
of the whole disturbance, the killing of 
Gov. Semple and his men, without doubt 
was the result of chance. The North- 
westers were under orders to pass at a dis- 
tance from Fort Douglas, and were doing so 
when Semple foolishly went out with a 
party inferior as to point of numbers, and 
rashly brought on the conflict. Semple 
evidently belieyed he was in the right and 
that the Northwesters were interlopers in 



the country, while on the other hand the 
Northwesters had occupied the country and 
had spent great sums of money in exploring 
and opening up the tur countries, reaching 
to the shores of the Arctic and Pacific, 
years before the Hudson's Bay Co. at- 
tempted to follow them, as the Cana- 
dians had followed in the footsteps of the 
French, who, to certain distances .had pene- 
trated forty years before the Hudson's Bay 
Co. had ventured to establish a single post 
inland from the shores of the Bay. The 
Company laid claim by a lately-discovered 
interpretation of a royal charter a hundred 
and fifty years old, while the North- 
westers held by right of 
discovery and occupation. At last the Im- 
perial Government were forced to recognize 
the situation, and on February 6, 1817, 
at the very date when Selkirk was sending 
his armed forces from Fort William to Fort 
Douglas the Governor General of Canada was 
instructed in the following terms: 

"You will also require under similar pen- 
alties the restitution of all forts, buildings 
or trading stations, with the property which 
they contain, which may have been seized 
or taken possession of by either party, to the 
party who originally established the same, 
and who were in possession of them pre- 
vious to the recent disputes between the 
two companies. You will require also the 
removal ot any blockade or impediment by 
which any party may have attempted to 
prevent the free passage of traders or others 
of His Majesty's subjects or the natives of 
the country with their merchandise, furs, 
provisions and other effects, throughout the 
lakes, rivers, roads and every other usual 
route or communication heretofore used for 
the purpose of the fur trade in the interior 
of North America, and the full and free 
permission of all persons to pursue their 
usual and accustomed trade without hind- 
rance or molestation. " 


Col. Coltman and Major Fletcher were 
appointed by the Governor-General of Can- 
ada to proceed to the fur countries to see 
that these instructions were carried out and 
secure full information regarding the acts ot 
both parties. 

On arriving at Fort William in the early 
summei the Commissioners found that the 
sheriff, who had been arrested and impris- 
oned by Lord Selkirk when he attempted to 
serve a warrant on him, hud, on the depart- 
ture of his Lordship for Red River, secured 
his release and officially taken possession of 
the place and returned it to the Northwest 
Co. This sheriff afterwards sued Selkirk 
for damages and was awarded 500 dam- 
ages. Arrived at the Red River they im- 
mediately executed their commission by 
compelling each party to restore to the 
other the property and forts taken by force 
during the disturbances. After collecting 
information and taking depositions from 

many persons they returned to Canada an d 
made an exhaustive report. 


Before Selkirk left the settlement he held 
a meeting with his colonists, when he gave 
as free grants the lands which 
had been improved by the settlers. 
He also settled his De Meurons 
in the neighborhood of Point Douglas, and 
so disposed them that on an alarm being 
given they could be assembled for offensive 
and defensive purposes. 

Promises were made to the colonists, 
some of which were never kept, but whether 
through the. neglect of Lord Selkirk or his 
inability to carry them out is not very clear. 
One grievence long held by some of the set- 
tlers was the breaking of his promise that a 
Presbyterian clergyman should be sent out 
to them. His lordship had never, it ap- 
pears, taken any steps to extinguish the In- 
dian title to the lands he had acquired from 
the Hudson's Bay company, and now, 
chiefly through the influence of Chief Pe- 
guis, he managed to collect 'together the 
head men of several petty bands of Indians, 
who claimed the lands along the Assini- 
boine and Red River as their hunting 
grounds. Though some of these were com- 
paratively new-comers, for their residence 
was of but a few years' date, their claim to 
the land was undoubtedly good by right of 
conquest and occupation. On the 18th of 
July, 1817, the Indians assembled and con- 
veyed to his lordship "all that tract of land 
adjacent to Red River and Assiniboine 
river, beginning at the mouth of the Red 
river and extending along the same as far 
as the Great Forks, at the mouth of Red 
Lake river, and along the Assiuiboine river 
as far as Muskrat river, otherwise called 
Riviere des Champignons, and extending to 
the distance of six miles from Fort Douglas 
on every side, and likewise from Fort Daer, 
(at Pembina) and also from the Great Forks, 
and in other parts extending in breadth to 
the distance of two English statute miles 
back from the banks of the said rivers, on 
each side," the consideration bein that 
Selkirk should deliver annually, on the 10th 
October, to the Saulteau and Cree Indians 
at The Forks of the Assiniboine and at 
Portage la Prairie, respectively, one hun- 
dred pounds of good tobacco. This deed 
was signed by five Indians, Lord Selkirk, 
Miles Macdonnell, Thomas Thomas, James 
Bird and five others. 

This business attended to, his lordship 
took his departure tor Canada via Minne- 
sota and overland. 


Much discussion had taken place in 
Canada over the troubles in the fur coun- 
tries during 1816-17, the Montreal papers 
being the common medium through which 
writers ventilated their views on the situa- 
tion. On Selkirk's arrival in Upper Canada 
from the Red River country in 1817 he 



found awaiting him four charges, made 
against him by the partners of the North- 
west Company. These, were for having 
stolen eighty-three muskets at Fort Wil- 
liam; the forcible taking possession of Fort 
William in 1816; an assault and false im- 
prisonment of the deputy sheriff'; resistance 
to legal arrest. The magistrates dismissed 
the first charge and accepted bail for his ap- 
pearance to answer for the others. Com- 
missioner Coltman had taken bail from Sel- 
kirk to appear at Montreal, but the courts 
there changed the trial to Upper Canada. 

In September, 1818, his lordship was tried 
at Sandwich on a charge of "a con- 
spiracy to ruin the trade of the 
Northwest Company," on which occasion 
a disagreement arose between the grand 
jury and the Attorney-General, John Bev- 
erley Robinson, on the latter's claim of a 
right to attend the grand jury and examine 
the witnesses. The trial never came off 
and Selkirk left for England. After his 
departure a true bill was found at York and 
verdicts were given against him of 500 for 
the imprisonment of Deputy- Sheriff Smith, 
and 1500 for the false arrest and imprison- 
ment of McKenzie, one of the Northwest 
Co. 's partners, at Fort William. It is 
probable that the Northwesters brought 
great influence to bear on the authorities in 
Canada to prevent the trial of some of 
their employees, but several of those 
charged with crimes were actually tried by 
jury before Chief Justice Powell, at Yoik, 
in October, 1818, but verdicts of "not 
guilty" were rendered. 


On his return to England, in 1818, Lord 
Selkirk seems to have become broken down 
in health, and crossed over to the 
continent in search of rest, and 
a milder climate than England 
affords, but he never recovered from the 
effect of the troubles encountered in Amer- 
ica. He died on the 8th April, 1820, at 
Pau, in the south of France, surrounded by 
his wife and daughters. 


Even after the trials in Canada in 1818, 
the Northwesters were arrested by force in 
the fur country. In 1818 William Williams 
was sent out from England to Red River as 
an official of the Hudson's Bay Co., winter- 
ing that year at Cumberland House, on the 
Saskatchewan. The next summer he ap- 
plied his knowledge of naval operations (he 
had been a sailor) to the fitting out of a 
small schooner for service on Lake Winni- 
peg. Arming the vessel with cannon, and 
manning it with the ever-ready DeMeuron 
soldiers, left by Selkirk as peaceable tillers 
of the soil, the new governor proceeded to 
Grand Portage, at the mouth of the Sas- 
katchewan river, which he took possession 
of, so as to seize the brigades of the North- 
west Co., as they arrived from the interior, 
en route to Fort William. 

Unaware of the surprise that awaited 
them, the Northwesters arrived at the port- 
age and made preparations to cross over 
it. The soldiers then made prisoners of five 
partners of the Northwest Company, be- 
sides a large number of the junior officials 
and voyageurs. The officers were Angus 
Shaw, J. G. McTavish, J. D. Campbell, 
Wm. Mclntosh and Mr. Frobisher. The 
first two were sent to England; Campbell 
was forwarded via Moose Factory and the 
Ottawa River and Montreal, while Fro- 
bisher and some of his men were kept in 
confinement at York Factory until October, 
when they managed to escape, and finding 
an Indian canoe, started for the interior, 
reaching Lake Winnipeg in safety, but 
without arms or provisions. They suffered 
so dreadfully from exposure and hunger 
that poor Frobisher died in misery in No- 
vember. The remainder of the party, leav- 
ing the body unburied, after a few days' 
travel, reached a Northwester's fort at 
Moose Lake. 


The Northwesters' Fort Gibraltar could 
not be restored to them by the commission- 
ers, for the simple reason that it had 
been totally destroyed, in 1816, 
by Selkirk's men, but after 
the Governor - General's proclamation 
was enforced the Northwesters went to 
work and speedily erected a new fort bear- 
ing the old name and occupied it until the 
coalition of the companies in 1821. 

At Fort Douglas, and lower down the 
Red River, the Selkirk colonists began to 
till the ground and erect new dwellings. 
Many of the De Meurons crossing the river 
to take land on its east side. 

In 1818, when there was every prospect 
of a bountiful harvest, the grasshoppers ap- 
peared and destroyed the crops, leaving the 
colonists in a state of despondency, which 
was not lessened by the arrival of some 
French families from Lower Canada, ac- 
companied by two priests, as the more per- 
sons there would be to feed the greater the 
difficulty in obtaining provisions. Once 
again, in the autumn, the people made their 
way to Pembina, in search of that never- 
failing resource to them the buffalo. By 
this time the colonists were more versed in 
the manner of chasing the "wild cattle of 
the plains," and iu consequence of the near 
approach of the animals to Pembina an 
abundance of food was obtained. 

In 1819 the Canadians settled at Pembina, 
while the colonists returned to the 
settlement at the Forks, where, though 
they sowed and planted, they reaped not, 
for the grasshoppers bred early and soon 
devoured all the green herbage, so that no 
alternative offered but to travel up to 
Pembina, as they had so often done before. 
Almost in despair they settled for the 
winter on the banks of the Pembina, but 
during the ensuing winter they secured 



plenty of provisions, saving enough to take 
back a supply of pemican for consumption 
during the seeding time at the settlement 
in 1820. But the plague of locusts still was 
upon them, and during the winters of 1820- 
21, and 1822-23, they were forced back to 
Pembina. The last season, however, they 
saved part of their crops. 


In 1821, chiefly through the efforts of 
Edward Ellice, (afterwards the Rt. Hon.), 
the Hudson's Bay and Northwest Com- 
panies consolidated their interests under 
the title of the first named, securing from 
the British government, on 6th December, 
1821, certain exclusive privileges or trading 
rights, in the Indian Territories, which 
included all the lands to the 

tion the route to Canada was abandoned for 
the transport of goods, all the business of 
the company being done by way of Hudson's 
Bay, and so it was, that the Canadians, 
40 years after, knew little or nothing of the 
Red River country or its people. The com- 
pany practically ruled the Northwest under 
Sir George Simpson, until his death about 
1860 though in 1835 a council was chosen 
from the people resident in the settlement. 
He was a man of great tact, and managed 
admirably the affairs of a colony, composed 
as it was of English, Scotch, Irish, French, 
Metis and Indians, with their conflicting in- 
terests. He annually made the voyage to 
Red river from Montreal in a bark canoe 
propelled by the paddles of a large crew of 
trained and hardy voyageurs, and on one 
occasion continued his journey by passing 


north and west of the Hudson's Bay 
territories in British North America, for a 
term of 20 years. It may here be said that 
before the expiration of this period, namely 
in 1838, this license was superseded by one 
for a further term of 21 years, dating from 
1838. It was when the second license was 
about to expire, and a renewal was asked 
for, that the Canadian government pressed 
a claim for the Hudson's Bay Territories, 
and contested the legality of the company's 
charter, sending representatives to England 
for that purpose, the agitation being kept 
up from 1857 to 1869, when the transfer 
took place. 

In 1821 the means of both companies were 
nearly exhausted through competition and 
extravagance, and both parties welcomed a 
termination of the strife. After the coali- 

over the great prairies of the Northwest 
and the Rocky Mountains, across Behriug's 
strait, through Russia in Asia and Europe, 
and on to England, from whence he sailed 
back to Montreal the first man to pass 
around the world north of the equator. 


In the autumn of 1821 a party ot immi- 
grants from Switzerland arrived at York 
Factory. They were induced to leave Eu- 
rope in the hope that they would make 
quiet, steady and peaceable settlers, but on 
their arrival in the colony, in the early 
winter, after a very arduous journey at an 
inclement season, it was found that most of 
them were rather of the artizan class than 
agriculturists. On the flyleaf of a church 
register kept by the Rev. John West, and 



now on deposit in the English Church ar- 
chives, is a memorandum that 171 colonists 
left Europe for the settlement in 1821, and 
six children were born on the voyage, leav- 
ing a total of 177. Next year eight of these 
left for Canada or the United States, and 
fourteen were dead. Nearly all these peo- 
ple left the country four years later. 


From the date of Semple's death in 
1816, to 1822, Alexander McDonell was, 
when circumstances permitted, acting as 
governor of the colony. In 1822 Captain 
Bulger entered on the duties of the gover- 
nor's office, George Simpson (afterwards Sir 
George) being the governor-in-chief. 

structed, occupied Fort Gibraltar, and it 
will be interesting to notice here that the 
marriage register of the Rev. John West, 
under date of April 18, 1822, contains an 
entry of the solemnization of a marriage, 
George Simpson attesting as witness, at 
Fort Gibraltar, the next six entries made 
being of marriages at Fort Garry, one 
ot which was witnessed by Simpson, while a 
star is placed opposite the first entry, 
drawing attention to a foot note, 
which reads that Fort Gibraltar 
is "now named Fort Garry." Without 
doubt, on that date Simpson changed the 
name to remove any feeling of resentment 
still existing amongst the Northwestern 
element at the occnpation of it by the new 


In 1822 Mr. Halket, a relative and execu- 
tor of Lord Selkirk, visited the colony and 
enceavored to arrange its affairs, but the 
continual trouble experienced by the settlers 
made this an almost hopeless task. He, 
however, managed to ameliorate their con- 
dition somewhat by throwing off one-fifth of 
their debts. An arrangement was made 
whereby goods were sold at the following 
advance on invoice 'cost : First 33 : \ was 
added, then this value was increased by 58 
per cent., to make the retail cost to the con- 


The Hudson's Bay Company, as recon- 

Nicholas Garry, a member of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company's Council, visited the 
country about this date, his name appear- 
ing, with that of Simpson, as witness to the 
marriage of Thomas Isbester with Mary 
Kennedy at Norway House on the 12th of 
August, 1821. 


While Gov. Bulger acted as governor of 
the colony many schemes were entered into 
by the settlers, such as the formation of the 
"Buffalo Wool Company." The wool of the 
buffalo was to be utilized for domestic pur- 
poses and export, while the hides of the 



animals were to be tanned. It is sufficient 
to say that it was a failure, the concern 
winding up, with a loss of over $12,000, in 
the year 1825. 

Even in 1823 but tew plows were in use, 
the hoe being the common implement used 
in farming operations. Gov. Bulger, re- 
presenting tho Selkirk heirs, met with some 
opposition from the fur-trading authorities 
of the Hudson's Bay Co. , who prevented 
the settlers from trading horses, leather and 
provisions from the freemen, but on a pro- 
per representation being sent to England 
these restrictions were removed, though 
trading in furs was considered a species of 
high treason, when indulged in by the 


Gov. Bulger resigned in 1823 and was 
succeeded by Capt. R. P. Pelly, the fur 
interests being watched over by Donald 

The company now issued, as a circula- 
tory medium, notes of the value of one 
pound, five shillings and one shilling. It 
may be said that silver coins were unknown 
in the country until troops arrived in 1846. 

Soon after Capt. Felly's advent a large 
band of cattle was brought into the coun- 
try and sold to the colonists. An experi- 
mental farm was started at Haytield on the 
east side of the Red River, about three 
miles above the entrance of the Assiniboine, 
but, like the Buffalo Wool company affair, 
gross mismanagement occurred, and it 
proved an utter failure after a sinkage of 
$10,000 was made. 


At this time the famous Red River cart 
was in common use. I find in an unpub- 
lished journal of a fur trader that the first 
cart ever used on the Red River plains was 
made in the Northwesters' fort at Pembina 
in 1801, when the wheel was a solid block 
of wood, about three feet in diameter. 

The next year an improvement was made 
in the wheels, as announced in the following 
paragraph I have extracted from the manu- 
script referred to : "They (the carts) are 
about four feet high and perfectly straight, 
the spokes being placed perpendicularly 
without the least bending outwards, and 
only four in each wheel; the carts will carry 
about five pieces (450 pounds), and are 
drawn by one horse." Little improvement 
was afterwards made in these primitive car- 
riages, and even to-day an occasional cart, 
drawn by an ox or a horse, may be seen 
parading the main business street of the 
capital of the Canadian Northwest. 

Gunn informs us that in 1825 iron was 
worth four shillings a pound in the settle- 
ment, and it cost 4 sterling to get the iron- 
work of a plow. 


In the spring of 1826 the Red river over- 
flowed its banks, and spread over the coun- 
try for a great distance. The settlers were 

compelled to fly in haste to the 
Little Stony Mountain. Their 

houses, which were almost invariably 
erected on the first or lower bank of the Red 
river, were washed away. The previous 
winter had been a very severe one, the free- 
men residing about Pembina losing many ot 
their people by exposure and starvation, 
notwithstanding the efforts of the colonists 
to supply them with food, under the direc- 
tion of Donald McKenzie, the head officer 
of the Hudson's Bay Co. Now it was the 
turn of the colonists to suffer, as had often 
been the case before. Not until the flood 
reached to sixteen feet over usual high 
water mark did the raging waters show any 
sign of abating, and though the torrent first 
surged over the river banks on the 2nd of 
May, it was not until the middle of June 
that the waters receded to below the level 
ot the banks of the stream. Nearly every 
possession was scattered and ruined, and the 
wretched people met to consider what course 
they should pursue. Finally the Scotch and 
French decided to begin anew the erection 
of houses, with the intention of remaining 
in, the country, but the DeMeurons and 
Swiss, almost to the last individual, deter- 
mined to leave the settlement. On the 
23rd June, assisted by the Hudson's Bay 
company's officials with provisions, 243 
persons started for Fort Snelling in the 
neighborhood of where now stands St. Paul, 
Minnesota. They arrived in safety at their 
journey's end, after passing through the 
lands of the warlike Sioux, and many of 
their descendants are to-day among the 
most prominent and prosperous of the West- 
ern States. 

The colonists who remained set to work 
with a will, and, while some erected new 
dwellings, on the highest bank of the Red 
River, others sowed what little seed had 
been preserved. The harvest was a gener- 
ous one, and the following winter was 
passed by the people in enjoyment of an 
abundance of provisions. 


For some years after matters in the colony 
were very quiet, the harvests being good 
and provisions in plenty. It was in 1835 
that Sir George Simpson became the presi- 
dent of an executive body known as the 
government or council of Assini- 
boia. This council was composed 
originally of the governor of Rupert's Land, 
the governor of the Selkirk colony (who 
was also a chief factor in the Hudson's Bay 
Co.), the Roman Catholic bishop, two 
clergymen of the English church, several 
retired officers of the company, and a few 
residents of the colony. 


In 1820 the Rev. John West arrived in 
the settlement frotn England to serve as 
chaplain for the Hudson's Bay Company, 
and immediately visited ?.the company's 
posts throughout the country, marrying and 



baptizing the people. The first entry in 
the baptism register, which is still in exis- 
tence, is dated September 9, J820, being 
that of William, son of Thomas and Phoebe 
Bunn. He administered the rite of baptism 
on 239 occasions before the close of 1822, 
and during that time married 54 couples. 
The clergyman's fees were, for marriages, 5 
shillings; for burials, 2 shillings and 6 pence, 
and for certificates, 2 shillings and 6 pence. 
In the autumn- of 1823 the Rev. D. Jones 
replaced Mr. West, with the title of assist- 
ant chaplain, but after August 18, 1825, he 
assumed the title of chaplain. The registers 
contain entries made by George Harbidge, 
missionary school- master. In 1825 the Rev. 
W. Cockran arrived in the settlement, and 
shortly after settled at the rapids, in St. 
Andrews parish, Mr. Jones at the time re- 
siding at what is now known as St. John's, 
though it then formed a part of Kildonan. 
It was not until the 28th of October, 1853, 

settlers. Besides an experimental farm, one 
of these was the growth of flax, but while 
the plant grew well, and abundant harvests 
were gathered, the result of the venture 
was a failure, on account of scarcity of 
laborers and absence of skilled workmen. 
The next undertaking was the formation 
of "The Tallow Company" in 1832. Nearly 
500 head of cattle were secured in the set- 
tlement and placed under the care of herd- 
ers who were inexperienced and incompetent, 
with the result that 111 animals were lost 
during the first year. Though the investors 
had been promised great profits from the 
hide and tallow export trade,none appeared, 
and the company was broken up in 1834. 

In 1833 a joint stock herding company 
was formed with a capital of 1,200. Two 
men were sent to Missouris for sheep to 
start a ranche, but owing to personal dis- 
agreement between them thpy pushed on to 
Kentucky to make their purchase. Some 


that St. John's church was consecrated by 
that name. From 1821 to 1830 a large 
number of retired officials and servants of 
the company became residents of the settle- 
ment, most of them taking up land north of 
Fort Garry along the Red river. Owing to 
the attitude of the French Metis to the 
Hudson's Bay Company, Governor Simpson 
in 1831-34 erected, in the heart of the Eng- 
lish settlement, the establishment ever since 
known as the Lower or Stone Fort. 


The Selkirk settlers were greatly in debt to 
the Selkirk heirs, and as the market for 
farm produce was extremely limited, they 
were unable to pay oft' the existing indebt- 
edness. Several schemes were entered into 
in the hope that the export of farm produce 
would increase the direct revenue of the 

1,475 sheep were purchased at from five to 
seven shillings each, and the drove started 
for Red River. Overdriven and illused by 
the carelessness of those in charge only 251 
were surviving at the end of the journey. 

Having gone through this experience of 
sheep raising, something else must 
be undertaken, so, in 1837 Cap- 
tain Gary was brought out from 
England by the H. B. Company with 
a full staff of servants, and outfits of the 
most improved farming implements. The 
buildings of old Fort Garry were utilized as 
farm houses and barns, the farm itself being 
situated on the lands adjoining, or what are 
to-day known as the Hudson's Bay Flats. 
From 1837 to 1847 the farm flourished to a 
small extent, but old settlers inform me 
that the employees engaged there ate the 
bulk of the produce raised, and that the 



costly experiment ended in the breaking up 
of the farm, after great loss to the Hudson's 
Bay Company. 

Some time before, during the existence of 
the experimental mania, the Company im- 
ported from England, via Hudson Bay, the 
celebrated stallion Fireaway, whose de- 
scendants are still highly prized by the Red 
River people. 

In 1835 the Hudson's Bay Company pur- 
chased from the Selkirk heirs all their rights 
in the colony, with the lands included in 
the grant made to Lord Selkirk in 18.11, 
the price paid being variously stated at 
from 36,000 to 86,000. 


In the same year (1835) the council of As- 
siniboia was called together, when Sir Geo. 
Simpson explained that the time had arriv- 
ed when it was necessary make laws for the 
government of the population, which had 
risen to about 5,000 souls. Accordingly, 
the territory was divided into four districts, 
in each of which quarterly courts, presided 
over by a magistrate, were established. 
These courts hail power to pronounce final 
judgments in civil cases where the debt 
or damage claimed did not exceed five 
pounds. Appeals might be allowed at the 
discretion of the magistrate to a supreme 
court, which was the council of As- 
siniboia itself. In cases involving 
claims of more than ten pounds, and in 
all criminal cases, a jury was to decide 
by its verdict the facts in dispute. 

The council also levied an import duty of 
seven and one-half per cent, on all goods 
brought into the country, and while guard 
ing the fur-trading interests, they also 
placed an export duty on provisions and live 
stock, the growth or produce of the colony. 
A gaol was constructed immediately after 
the passing of these laws, the sum of 300 
having been given as a gift to the colony by 
the fur-trading branch of the Hudson's Bay 

On the 28th April, 1836, the first trial by 
jury took place, when one Louis St. Dennis 
was convicted of theft and sentenced to be 
flogged in public. The sentence was at once 
carried into effect, to the indignation of the 
assembled crowd, who expressed their feel- 
ing by throwing stones at the flogger. 


About this date the Red River people 
were beginning to open up a traffic with 
the American settlements on the Mississ- 
ippi, and several men had established stores 
on their own account. Andrew McDermot 
and Robert Logan, who names are borne by 
estates and street in the city of Winnipeg 
of to-day, were among the most prominent. 
Trading in furs was, however, strictly pro- 
hibited. The French were, as a rule, the 
hunters of the country, gathering in great 
camps for the purpose of proceeding to the 
buffalocountry, situated towards theMissouri 
river. The camps were icgulated by certain 

u nwritten laws, called for by the necessities 
of the situation. Chiefs were elected who 
sternly enforced the rules agreed to by all 
who enjoyed the protection afforded by the 
presence, in the Sioux country, of a semi- 
military force. Cuthbert Grant, the old 
Northwester, was denominated the 
"Warden of the plains." Many an en- 
counter took place between the Metis and 
the Indians, but almost invariably the 
latter were beaten with great loss, and they 
finally sued for peace with the mixed 
bloods. Much trouble arose at times be- 
tween the Company and the Metis on 
account of the fur trading proclivities of 
the latter. 

The English and Scotch settlers, while 
perhaps indulging to a limited extent in 
buffalo hunting, were the agriculturists of 
the colony and bowed to the dictum of the 
legal authorities moie readily than their 
French neighbors and friends. 

In 1839 Adam Ihom appeared in the 
settlement as recorder of Rupert's Land. 
He acted as a judge in the colony and was 
paid by the company until the year 1854, 
when he departed. 


The next year Thomas Simpson, who had, 
with Mr. Dease, made most valuable ex- 
plorations from the mouth of the McKenzie 
river, eastward along the coastline of the 
Arctic ocean, when proceeding across the 
plains- south of Pembiiia, en route to Eng- 
land to make his report, was either killed 
by his companions or committed suicide, 
(the actual facts have never yet been 
revealed.) His body was brought 
back to the settlement and 

some degree of obscurity surrounds 
the circumstances attending his burial. It 
is claimed that owing to the strong preju- 
dices of the Scotch on account of his sup- 
posed suicide, the remains were not given 
Christian burial. Having searched the 
burial register of the St. John's church, I 
find therein an entry signed by Win. Cock- 
ran, the resident Anglican clergyman, to 
the following effect: "Thomas Simpson, 
chief trader, Hudson's Bay Co.'s service. 
Oct. 15th, 1841. About 32 years. " It was 
impossible for the clergyman to have made 
the entry without performing the duties of 
his office. 


The first execution in Assiniboia took 
place on the 5th September, 1845, when a 
Saulteau Indian killed a Sioux, who was 
visiting Fort Garry, by shooting him, the 
bullet, after passing through the Sioux's 
body entered that of a Saulteau, who also 
fell dead. The murderer vas hung from a 
scaffold erected over the gaol gate, which 
building stood a little to the northwest of 
Fort Garry. 


Various reasons have been given for the 
necessity for the presence of British troops 


in Assiniboia. It is likely that the compli- 
cations arising out of the settlement of the 
Oregon boundary line induced the British 
governmen to despatch, via York Factory, 
the 6th Royal regiment (347 men) under 
Col. Crofton, in 1846; though it is possible 
that the insecurity of the Hudson's Bay Co. 
in their exclusive fur trading privileges 
caused the company to represent strongly 
to the government the necessity for the 
presence of troops. The 6th regiment de- 
parted in 1848, and were suc- 
ceeded by a force of 70 pen- 
sioners the sameyear.areinforcement coining 
out the following season. These pensioners 
were commanded by a Major Caldwell, who 
also acted as governor. 


Jin the spring of 1849 a serious disturb- 
ance took place on the occasion of the trial 
of a French half-breed named Wm. Sayre, 
on the charge of illegally trading for furs 
with the Indians, contrary to the laws of 
the land, founded on the terms of the Hud- 


son's Bay Company charter of 1670. On 
the 17th May, when the trial took place, 
the Mttis gathered in force. They were 
armed, and plainly avowed their intention 
of resisting the punishment of the prisoner 
if he was found guilty of the charge. No 
violence was offered to any person by the 
crowd, but the authorities recognized that 
they would be unable to enforce the de- 
cision of the court if it should prove un- 
favorable to the prisoner, and, although he 
pleaded guilty, he was allowed to depart, on 
some quibble of his claim to having received 
permission from an official to trade. The 
verdict was received by the waiting crowd 
as an admission by the company that the 
monopoly in the fur trade was broken, and 
with loud cries they fired salutes from their 

guns and congratulated themselves on their 


The Americans extinguished the Indian 
title to the lands along the upper Red river 
in 1851, Governor Ramsay, of St. Paul, 
Minnesota, visiting Pembina for that pur- 
pose. Much disappointment was experienced 
by those settlers of the colony who claimed 
land on the American side of the boundary 
on the grounds of squatters' rights when 
they failed to get their claims recognized. 


A flood, almost as extensive as that whic 
ruined the settlers in 1826, was experience 
in 1852, the damage ensuing being much 
greater than on the former occasion, as the 
colonists possessed more destructible pro- 
perty and the population was vastly larger. 
Every assistance was rendered to the suffer- 
ers by the governor and the bishop of 
Rupert's Land, the clergy generally doing 
all in their power to encourage and help the 
people. The Rev. John Black had arrived 


the previous year to become pastor to the 
Presbyterians, and he labored faithfully 
then as he did until his death in 1882. 


In 1854 Mr. Thorn was succeeded as clerk 
to the court (the position of recorder having 
been abolished) by Judge Johnson, who 
held the office until 1858, when Dr. Bunn 
was installed, attending to the duties until 
his death in 1861." Governor Wm. Mc- 
Tavish then filled the position for a year, 
until John Black took over the office. 


As the population of the settlement in- 
creased, in like ratio did the difficulties of 
administering the laws. The most of the 
people became dissatisfied with the form of 



government existing, which was practically 
the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company. 
By the year 1857 a considerable trade was 
carried on between the colony and the 
United States, where the people, in their 
annual trips to St. Paul, had presented to 
them the evidences of the westward march 
of civilization and settlement in the West- 
ern States of the Union. 


Petitions were sent in 1857 to the legisla- 
tive assembly of Canada, praying that the 
Canadian Government would take steps to 
open up communication between Upper 
Canada and the Red River, via Lake Su- 
perior, and extend to the settlers the pro- 
tection of Canadian laws and institutions. 
The Canadian Assembly took immediate 
action in the premises, and, as the Hudson's 
Bay Company were then asking from the 
Imperial Government an extension of their 
license for exclusive trading privileges in 
the Indian territories, they protested the 
claims of the company and asked that the 
Red River country be handed over to Can- 
ada. Representatives were sent by Canada 
to England and negotiations were entered 
into with the Imperial Government. An 
immense mass of correspondence on this 
matter has been published by both the 
Dominion Government and that of Ontario 
in connection with the settlement of the 
western boundary of Ontario. It was not 
until 1869 that an amicable settlement of 
the question was arrived at. 


The Hudson's Bay and Indian territories 
became part of Canada and the Hudson's 
Bay Company received as an equivalent 
300,000, and extensive land grants. 

Troops were sent to Red River in 1857, 
the Royal Canadian Rifles furnishing the 
detachment, which consisted of 120 men. 
This force left Red River in 1861, via York 


An event occurred in 1862 which created 
great excitement in the settlement. A steam 
boat of the flat-bottomed build, which had 
been constructed on the Upper Red River 
made its appearance at Fort Garry, bearing 
several passengers of note and a goodly as- 
sortment of freignt. The delight of the 
settlers was almost unbounded as they 
viewed the good ship Anson Northup, the 
first steam-propelled craft to ply the waters 
of the Red River. 


In 1862 the Sioux Indians in Minnesota, 
taking advantage of the American civil war, 
took to the war path and massacred many 
of the settlers in the State. Great fears 
were entertained by the Red River settle- 
ment people that an attack would be made 
on them, but the Sioux were too wily 
to take such a step, and had arranged 
to retreat across the International 

line when hard pressed by the U. S. troops. 
On the suppression of the uprising large 
numbers of these Indians crossed into As- 
siniboia, and on the 4th March, 1864, Major 
Hatch, the officer commanding the Amer- 
ican troops stationed at Pembina formally 
applied to Mr. Dallas, who was governor of 
the Red River Settlement, for permission to 
cross with his soldiers for the purpose of at- 
tacking the refugee Sioux on British soil. 
Gev. Dallas, within twenty-four hours, 
granted permission, only stipulating that 
no blood should be shed in the houses or 
enclosures of the settlers, but Major Hatch 
never availed himself of the opportunity. 
Many American writers have fallen 
into the error of stating 

that Governor Dallas refused Hatch's 
request, but the writer has in his 
possession copies of the correspondence 
which passeed between the gentlemen to 
the above effect. The truth appears to be 
that Major Hatch forwarded the corres- 
pondence to Washington, and was immedi- 
ately ordered to refrain from crossing the 
boundary line. During the Indian troubles, 
communication between St. Paul and Fort 


Garry was almost entirely cut ofl'. Dr. 
Schultz, in a speech delivered in the Cana- 
dian House of Commons, described a jour- 
ney made by him from St. Paul to the settle- 
ment, when on encountering bands of the 
Sioux, the explanation that he was a British 
subject acted as a certificate for free pas- 
sage. Many of the Sioux who crossed to 
the north of the line never returned to the 
United States, though they have never been 
recognized by government as other than 
foreign Indians. 


In 1863 a change was made in the affairs 
of the Hudson's Bay Co., by the sale to a 


new company of all the property and 
privileges of the old concern. 

Canadians and Amei leans had arrived in 
the settlement, principally after 1857, when 
the surveys and explorations conducted by 
officials of the Canadian government drew 
attention to the country. Numerous ex- 
ploring expeditions had passed through the 
Northwest en route to the far north from 
the time Sir John Richardson descended 
the McKenzie river. Back, Simpson and 
Dease, Lefroy and others had made more or 
less extended explorations in the 
geographical and scientific fields, so that 
gradually information was reaching the 
outside world of the land that was soon to 
be thrown open for settlement under the 
sheltering care of the Dominion of Canada. 


In 1867 a provisional government was or- 
ganized by Mr. Thomas Spence, the terri- 
tory embraced in the scheme being that 
portion of the present province of Manitoba 
situated about Portage la Prairie, but when 
the originators sent home a petition asking 
for recognition by the Imperial Govern- 
ment, they were informed that the whole 
proceeding was illegal, and the scheme fell 
to the ground. The district mentioned was 
outside the territory included within the 
bounds of Assiniboia. No serious attention 
has ever been paid to this movement, the 
whole matter being now treated as a huge 


A grasshopper visitation took place in 
1868 and the people were much distressed 
for provisions. A committee was formed 
and subscriptions poured in from Great 
Britain, Canada and the United States to 
pay for the wheat and other provisions de- 
spatched overland from Minnesota to Fort 
Garry. The Canadian government proceed- 
ed to construct a road from Fort Garry to 
the Lake of the Woods as a means to afford 
relief and employment to the settlers, but 
trouble occurred between the French 
Metis and the officials in charge of the 


In 1869 the arrangements for a transfer 
of the Hudson's Bay Territories to Canada 
were concluded and it was announced 
that the Hon. William Macdougall had 
been appointed as the first governor to the 
province about to be formed by Canada. 
He proceeded to Pembina with a numerous 
retinue, having great stores of furniture, 
firearms, ammuRition, etc., and on his 
arrival there found that many of the resi- 
dents of the settlement, and especially the 
French, opposed to his entry, the latter 
being very much annoyed that surveys were 
being made by Canadian officials, while the 
people of the settlement had never been 
communicated with by either the Imperial 
or Canadian governments or the Hudson's 
Bay Company regarding the transfer. Mr. 

Macdougall announced himself as governor, 
and issued proclamations, to which no at- 
tention was paid. 


Meetings were held at Fort Garry and 
elsewhere, guards were placed by the French 
to prevent Governor Macdougall and his 
people from coming into the country, and 
then the French took possession of Fort 
Garry, Louis Riel acting as their chief. 
More meetings were held, some of them at- 
tended by representatives of the English- 
speaking people, but the final result was 
thac Louis Riel formed a provisional govern- 
ment and ruled the land until the end of 
August, 1870, when General Wolseley 
ousted him from the fort on the arrival of 
the regulars and volunteers sent from East- 
ern Canada, via Lake Superior, for that 

It is beyond the scope of this paper to re- 
fer in detail to the proceedings of the Riel 
government, it only being necessary 
to say that the Selkirk settlers, in all cir- 
cumstances, remained loyal to the British 

After 1870 the tide of emigration turned 
toward Manitoba, and while the country is 
gradually becoming dotted over with the 
new settlers, none of them are more res- 
pected than the old Selkirk settlers and 
their descendants, and none of them have 
suffered the trials and hardships endured by 
the pioneers. 


The writer has come into contact with 
many of the original settlers who came out 
with the various parties via \ork Factory 
to take up lands on the Red River nnder 
the auspices of Lord Selkirk, and has se- 
cured much information of a general nature 
regarding life in the Selkirk settlement in 
the days of its infancy. During this sum- 
mer I have personally interviewed the last 
survivors of the original colony who were 
old enough on the date of their 
arrival to remember the events 
that transpired in connection with 
the trouble between Lord Selkirk and the 
Northwest Fur company. Herewith I give 
the substance of the information obtained 
from these old people at, in cases, many 
conversations held with them, and wherever 
possible I use their own words. In the case 
of Mr. Murray, who is A wonderfully clear- 
minded and physically active old gentleman, 
the information, as regards dates and 
occurrences given by him, have 
been compared with original docu- 
ments in my possession, and with such 
data as is contained in the official church 
registers of St. John's church. In every 
case his memory has been proved to be 
singularly perfect, even the most minute 
details of his evidence being borne out by 
the records. It is then safe to accept his 
statements where contemporary written 
records are wanting, and it is particularly 




noticeable that the other survivors of the 
first] settlement, whom I have conversed 
with, have referred aie to Mr. Murray as 
the, one who Is the best authority living. 
Canon Matheson, of St. John's college, 
kindly procured for me from his father, 
Mr. John Matheson, the particulars 
given by him regarding certain points of 
history in dispute, or not before recorded, in 
connection with the history of the settle- 


My name is Donald Murray; I was born 
at Kildonau, Sutherlandshire, Scotland, in 
or about the year 1801. I came to this 
plaee in 1815, with Lord Selkirk's fourth 
party of colonists, and I have lived here 
ever since. I remember perfectly well Lord 
Selkirk's being here in 1817, but I was then 
too young to be now able to recall anything 
in particular about him personally. 
I employed for many years after 
Michael Lambert, the bugler of the 
party of DeMeurous that came 
up with his lordship. I reiwember, how- 
ever, that Lord Selkirk held a great meet- 
ing with the colonists close to the spot 
where the Kildonan ferry now is, by the 
church lot. This was after we returned 
from Jack Fish jRiver, now called Norway 
House, where we had taken refuge after the 
destruction of the settlement by the North- 
west men in 1816. At this meeting new 
arrangements were made with all the set- 
tlers as to their lands. Before leaving 
Scotland the agreement was that we should 
pay five shillings an acre for our lands, but 
at this meeting Lord Selkirk gave them to 
us free of charge. Some of the arrange- 
ments made at this meeting were, however, 
never carried out. His lordship 
left us in August, going down 

by land through the United States. 
When Governor Miles Macdonald finally 
left the colony for Canada, [He was pres- 
ent as late as 1817, when he signed the In- 
dian treaty with Selkirk. ED.] where he 
afterwards died, a young settler and I went 
to him and said, "Now, Governor, you 
know you have in your possession many 
papers relating to Lord Selkirk's grants of 
land and other matters, which are of great 
value to us colonists. Will you not give 
them to us before you leave?" "No, 
Donald," says he, "they were given into 
my charge, and I must keep them." [The 
papers referred to are likely those now 
filed in the Dominion archives office at Ot- 
tawa. ED.] 

I remember Governor Semple well. He 
was a very fine man, one of the best that 
ever came to the settlement. He was a 
portly gentleman, rather stout and short; 
He arrived here in the autumn, and during 
the winter went west to visit the rarious 
posts in the interior, returning in the 
spring, soon after which he was killed. 
Whilst at the colony he always lived at 
Fort Douglas. The Seven Oaks massacre 
took place near the bridge which is close to 
where Sheriff Inkster's house stands. The 
half-breeds were coming on purpose to des- 
troy the settlement and kill the settlers. 
They nad been sent by "White-Headed 
McDonel," as Alexander McDonel was 
invariably called. After Lord Selkirk 
arrived McDonel fled to the States 
and we never heard of him again. 
I knew CuthJ>ert Grant, the leader 
of the half - breeds at the time 
of the massacre, well in after years, indeed, 
he was quite a friend of mine, and after my 
marriage often came to visit me at my 
house. He always spoke quite treely of the 
intention of the half-breeds to destroy the 
colony. Had he acted according to his in- 
tention we should certainly all have been 
killed, but after the massacre of Semple 
and his party, he acted very kindly towards 
us, allowing us to takje away all our pro- 
perty, or as much as we conveniently could. 

The day after the massacre, the Indian 
Peguis obtained leave to bring in all the 
bodies in his carts and bury them, which 
he did. Governor Semple and 19 others 
were buried near the fort on Point Douglas, 
close to where Alexander Logan's house 
now stands. Pegius was very sorry for the 
death of Gov. Semple. I myself saw him 
cry like a child as he lowered the body into 
the grave. This was certainly the morning 
of the day after the fight. The statement 
that the bodies were allowed to lie out on 
the prairie for a fortnight, and that they 
were mutilated and partially eaten by the 
wolves, is false. Between the years 1820 
and 1830 the remains of those killed were 
taken up and removed to St' John's church- 
yard, but no stone was erected over them 
and I could not now point out the spot 
where they were re-interred. 



I came out in 1815 with my parents. Two 
brothers of mine had come out a couple of 
years before us, but they had been sent down 
to Canada by the Northwest Co. people 
before our arrival in the settlement. We 
had a fine voyage out and no sickness among 
the people. We left Thurso, as near as I 
can recollect, early in June, and landed at 
York Factory, as I clearly remember, on 
August the 17th. We arrived at the settle- 
ment I suppose about the end of October. 
It was a very cold, snowy fall, and we had a 
hard and stormy journey up from York. 

The morning after the Semple murder my 
father and mother were taken prisoners by 
the French, as they were working in their 
field (now lot 25, Kildonan). They had 
come down from Fort Douglas that morning 
to work, having been at the fort for some 
days on account of the reports cir- 
culating that the French were coming to 
attack the settlement. They were living in 
a house which was one of the two erected 
by my brothers, who had gone to Canada 
with the settlers led away by Duncan Cam- 
eron. My parents were kept as prisoners 
until the next day. 

I think John Matheson (living at Grass- 
mere now), George Bannerman, John Poison 
and myself are the only four males alive now 
of the original colonists; but I think there 
are several females yet surviving. One is 
Mrs. Kaufman, who lives in Kildonan, on 
the east side of the river. [Adam McBeth, 
of Qu'Appelle, and his brother, both living 
yet, were infants when they arrived, but 
should be mentioned as original settlers, and 
there may be a few similar cases. ED.] 

Fort Douglas was carried away by the 
flood of 1826. It stood on the northeast 
side of the little creek that empties into the 
Red River near where Mr. Logan's house 
now stands on Point Douglas, but its site is 
now a long way out in the river, or at least 
from the present high bank. 

The Northwest Co.'s fort was called Gib- 
raltar, and stood on the Assiniboine point, 
at the mouth of that. river, but it has now 
all gone into the river a good many years, 
I think. I do not know of any traces of 
any earlier fort, known as Fort Rouge, 
standing near its site. The Hudson's Bay 
Co., however, had a fort which stood close 
to where Notre Dame street east is 
now. This was the fort which 
Dr. Bryce was unable to locate when he 
wrote his book about the old forts. This 
fort was built by Peter Fidler about 1817-18, 
but he went to Brandon House in the latter 
year, and it was first occupied by one James 
Sutherland, who finished it in 1819. As 
nearly as I can locate its position, it was 
situated between what is now McDermott 
and Notre Dame streets eaat, but perhaps 
nearer Notre Dame than the other. It was 
near the rise in the ground and a few hun- 
dred yards from the Red river. It was 
about square, the principal entrance facing 
exactly to th jioint between the two rivers. 

At the farther end, opposite to this gate, 
stood the master's house, which was 
larger than the others, ranged down 
each side of the pallisaded enclosure, about 
four on each side, but I do not remember 
exactly how many there were. There was 
a walk behind, between them and the pal- 
isades, and an open court-yard in the 
centre. I think there was also a small 
powder magazine behind the master's 
house. I often slept in this fort, and in 
1818, when I went to Brandon House, I 


1. Master's House. 

2. Houses on southwest side. 

3. Houses on northeast side. 

4. Powder Magazine. 

5. Main Gate, facing Assiniboine Point. 

started from it. I do not recollect that it 
had any particular name other than "the 
company's fort." It was quite distinct from 
Fort Garry, and stood at the same time as 
Forts Douglas and Gibraltar. I forget just 
when it disappeared, but it probably stood 
till the flood of 1826, and was then swept 
away, like the remains of Fort Douglas.then 
owned by Mr. Logan. If you doubt that 
this fort was there, just find out about a 
marriage ceremony I was at in it. I was 
the only guest from the colony invited when 
the following persons were married by the 
Rev. John West : James Bird, the chief 
factor, to a daughter of Thomas Thomas; 
Thomas Thomas, a retired chief factor, to 
Miss Monture; and Joseph Bird, a son of 
James, to a swampy Cree woman. (Rev. 
John West's marriage register, now in St. 
John's Church, shows these entries, and are 
dated atRedRiverColony-Ed.) lalso remem- 
ber Joseph Bird, a half brother of the late 
Dr. C. J. Bird, who was speaker in the 
Manitoba parliament in 1874, built three 
York boats there in 1819, and those boats, 
with one made by a boat-builder who was 
here then and whose name I cannot at this 
moment call to mind, were taken to York 
for freight. Just ask old John Matheson if 
he does not remember that his father 
worked on that fort for Peter Fidler. I re- 
member seeing him. [See testimony of 
Jno. Matheson. Ed.] 

Fort Garry was built by Governor Pelly 
in 1825, but was washed away the year 


after by the flood. It was a fine fort, and 
stood near old Fort Gibraltar. Directly 
after the flood the Company built houses on 
the Assiniboine west of Gibraltar, and it 
was afterwards palisaded. A French Can- 
adian named Basil, or Jacko Laurence, took 
the contract for the stockade, which was a 
very fine one. 

After the last Fort Garry (part of which 
yet remains) was built by Governor Christie 
in 1835-36, the old fort on the point 
was used as the farm buildings, 
and some stables were erected by Captain 
Gary north of them, near wher the Broad- 
way bridge now is, at least they were be- 
tween the point and that place. (Cellar 
holes and burnt plaster may be seen to-day 
at this place. Ed.) Capt. Gary had the 
celebrated stallion Fireaway there in charge 
for the Hudson's Bay Co., and when he left 
the settlement he took Fireaway with him 
to the States, having purchased him from 
the company, much to our sorrow. I 
freighted to York for Capt. Cary during 
two or three years after 1844. 

Fort Garry for years was only called 
"The Company's fort" by the settlers, and 
it was not until the last fort was erected 
that it was regularly called Fort Garry, 
though, of course, that was its proper name 
for years before. 

The Hudson's Bay Company used an old 
building, that stood about 200 or 300 
yards north of Fort Gibraltar, as a stable. 
That was after the companies joined. I do 
not know if they ever had a fort there be- 
fore, but they used that old building as a 
stable when they moved up and occupied 
the Northwest Company's fort about 1821. 

Before we came to the ccuntry the Hud 
son's Bay Company had a store on the east 
bank of the Red river, opposite to the 
mouth of the Assinihoine, I think on the 
property where Mr. N.W.Kittson afterwards 
had his trading store. The Company may 
have had a fort there, but I only know for 
a fact that they had some kind of a store. 

The abandoned Hudson's Bay Company's 
fort at Selkirk in 1815 was on the east 
side of the Red river, at the end of the big 
island at the swamp. The chimneys then 
stood about six feet high. It was called 
Fort William. There was also a small post 
four miles south of Netley creek. 

In 1818 I saw the company's Brandon 
House post, which was perhaps a mile or 
more west of the mouth of Souris river, to 
which place I walked one day, and it was 
on the south side of the Assiniboine. The 
Northwest fort was directly across the 
Assiniboine from it, on the north side. 

The country about the Lower Fort Garry 
was called the Red Deer plain. [Called the 
same in Henry's journal of 1800, the St. An- 
drew's Rapids also being termed the Red 
Deer Rapids. ED.] 

When Governor Semple left Fort Doug- 
las to meet the French he had with him 
only a few men, but" the settlers, coming 

into the fort and hearing of his departure, 
took their guns and went after him. Some 
joined him, but others were only half way 
when the fighting began. Mr. Bourke was 
on horseback going after the governor, but 
when he heard the shots he turned back for 
a cannon, which he took out, and saved 
some of the people who escaped the massa- 
cre. Chief Peguis, who had 70 warriors, 
shortly before the massacre offered his ser- 
vices to the governor for the defence of the 
colony, but the governor declined, not 
thinking there was any danger. The 
morning after the massacre, before 
Fort Douglas was given up to the French, 
we took all the ammunition for the cannons 
and threw it into the river, from the end of 
a boat which was tied to the shore. The 
cannon balls must now be in the mud at 
the bottom of the river, quite a long way 
from the present bank, as the river is much 
wider now than it was then. An Irishman, 
named Paddy Clabby, saved a fine sword, 
which may have been Governor Semple's, 
by carrying it down from the fort to the 
river and sinking it in the water, attached 
to a line, the other end of which was tied to 
one of the boats we started for Jack fish 
river in. In this way the sword was towed 
along unperceived by the French, until it 
could with safety be taken aboard. 

Plenty of muskets came out with 
the first settlers, but I never 
heard of them being served out 
to the colonists. They were stored in Fort 
Douglas, and one day, in Governor Bulger's 
time, when I was a constable, I and my 
companion had them all out in the court 
yard and cleaned them. I have never heard 
of the colonists being drilled to arms. Two 
brass field pieces came out with some of the 
settlers. One time when Mr. Halket, a 
relative of Lord Selkirk, and a member of 
the Hudson's Bay Company's Committee, 
was out here, he took the wheels of one of 
the gun carriages, which were of English 
oak, iron bound, and very strong, to trans- 
port his boat to Lake Manitoba, which lay 
in the route of the trip he was taking. 
These wheels were left at the mouth of the 
White Mud River, where they rotted away. 

Lord Selkirk was a tall, slender man, 
probably six feet in height. He had never 
before been in the Red River country when 
I saw him in 1817. 

I do not remember ever having heard of 
Lord Selkirk's sending out any reindeer 
from Norway, but he did send out a herd of 
Orkney cattle. 

I remember Duncan Cameron of the 
Northwest Company, who was a fine old 
gentleman, much liked by the people, also 
his brother Reynold, who died at Pembina. 

In 1816, Colin Robertson did not agree 
well with the officials in the settlement. 
They did not like him, neither did the 
settlers. As he started off with a boat con- 
taining fur for Lake Winnipeg, in derision 
he hoisted a pemican sack in- 



stead of a British flag as was usual. 
This was before the Semple affair. 
After the massacre the Northwesters occu- 
pied Fort Douglas, but erected new houses 
at Fort Gibraltar in 1817-18 after Col. Colt- 

was a back gate on the north side by which 
wood was taken in. The fort stood twenty 
or thirty yards back from the rivers, which 
at that time were much narrower than now. 
Lord Selkirk gave a free grant of fifty 

man, the commissioner, came here. Fort 
Gibraltar was positively situated on the 
very point of land between the rivers, 
although the main face and principal gate- 
way overlooked the Assiniboine, There 

acies to an old French half breed named 
Joseph Plant, near my place. Plant was 
frozen to death near Pembina, ia the winter 
of 1826, when a lot of the French, who 
were starving on the plains beyond Pern- 



bina, started for the settlement. It was 
mild at first, but began to rain. The wind 
changing its directicr. brought snow and 
drift, so that they lost the trail. All per- 
ished there except a son of Plant, who ran 
ahead to Grande Pointe, some miles south 
of Pembina. Though he managed to start 
a fire, his clothes being wet and he ex- 
hausted, he was overcome and died beside 
the fire, his body being afterwards found 
near the remains of the small fire. Another 
son of Plant, who had not been with the 
party, later on sold the property to John 
Sutherland, from whom, a few years ago, I 
purchased it. Old Plant was much liked 
by the settlers, to whom he was always a 
very good friend. 

Of course I remember Sir George Simp- 
son well. After I married and had a house, 
he often called upon me, and was very kind 
and friendly, though, perhaps, I am the 
only man who ever defied his authority. 
This took place one time at York Factory 
when he was walking arm in arm with Sir 
John Franklin. I wanted a gallon of 
whisky which had been promised to me, but 
which he refused to give me. He ordered 
me to go with the boats for the settlement, 
which I refused to do until I got my 
whisky, telling him that Iwas a colonist and 
not one of the Company's servants. We 
were, however, very good friends afterwards. 
I think the seasons have changed greatly. 
I can assure you we have had seasons when 
the strawberries were ripe by June 1 . Now 
they are never ripe before July 1. I think 
we then had far more birds than now, 
especially wild fowl and pigeons. I remem- 
ber when I used to see flocks of pigeons fol- 
lowing the course of the river, which were 
so large that the front of each flock was out 
of sight in the north, while the tail was out of 
sight in the south; but they nevei come now. 
[In 1871, standing on the spot where now is 
the junction of Main and Lombard streets, 
I fired into great Hocks of pigeons passing 
overhead and killed numbers of them. Ed.] 

I have killed Buffalo at Pembina with a 
knife, having no gun to shoot them. Those 
were hard days for us. 

I commenced freighting to York in 1844. 

I was appointed a magistrate in 1852, 
and acted as such tor 18 years, when I 
retired on account of my deafness. 

I remember perfectly the case of the 
Orkney girl you have written about, who is 
mentioned, you tell me, in Alexander 
Henry's journal. Of course I was not in 
this country in 1807 when the affair oc- 
curred, but I knew well the man Scart, 
who was connected with it, and the story 
was common talk for many a year after we 
arrived in the country. I will tell you 
what I know about it. The girl came out 
from Orkney to James Bay in the 
service of the Hudson's Bay Company, and 
was dressed in man's clothes. For years 
her sex was not discovered by any of the 

people who associated with her. When she 
was at a post of the company, at James 
Bay, she was for two years at the Partridge 
House, with a man named John Scart, who 
used to find her, on his return from hunt- 
ing, sitting by the fire crying; and she did 
very little work, appearing to be much 
troubled in mind. After that she and Scart 
were sent inland to Brandon House post, on 
the Assiniboine River, where they occupied 
the same cabin in the fort, for in those days 
a log hut was usually given to each two 
men. Scart was the right-hand man of 
Mr. Goodwin, the master at Bran- 
don House for the Hudson's Bay 
Company, and the latter frequently 
asked Scart to his house of an evening to 
take a dram of grog and consult with him. 
[Henry's unpublished journal contains entry, 
on 19th of August, 1800, that Robt. Good- 
win was in charge of the Hudson's Bay 
Company's boats for Assiniboine river points. 

One night Scart had been at the master's 
house until late at night, and on his return 
to the cabin discovered the true sex of his 
partner. He at once told the frightened 
woman that he would go to Mr. Goodwin 
with the news, but she fell on her knees 
and begged him not to reveal her identity. 
After much persuasion he consented to keep 
the secret, and they continued to live to- 
gether under the same conditions as before, 
and it was not for a long time after that she 
lost her honor. She was finally separated 
from Scart by being sent to Pem- 
bina to act as cook for the master 
there, who went by the name of "Mad Mc- 
Kay. " It was when there that she made a 
discovery as to her condition, and went 
over to Mr. Henry at the Northwest fort, 
and was the next morning delivered of a 
child, to the great surprise of all the people 
in the country, who had never suspected 
that she was a woman. [Henry's journal 
contains a note that on the 15th December, 
1807, a young Orkney girl, who had 
passed as a boy in the H. B. Co.'s 
service, went to Henry and gave birth to a 
child. She had followed her lover out from 
Orkney and he was then at Grand Forks. 

The girl was sent back to Orkney with 
her child. Scart, who always acknowledged 
the above facts, lived for many years after- 
wards, dying finally at the Image Plain, 
below Kildonan. The story was current 
amongst the early settlers, who 
knew Scart and Mad McKay, and 
this was undoubtedly the first 
white woman who lived in the Red River 
country. I knew both Baptiste Lajimonieie 
and his wife, but I never before heard that 
it was claimed that she was the first white 
woman in this country. I have often won- 
dered why some person did not write about 
the Orkney girl, and am glad you are doing 



I was horn in the Scotland Highlands 
about 1805, and came to Red River with my 
pare jits in 1815. 

I remember the time Governor Semple 
and his people were killed by the French. 
The bodies were buried near Fort Douglas 
the day after they were killed. They were 
buried in one grave near some trees, but I 
never heard tha't the remains were taken 
away from there. I remember Cuthbert 
Grant, who treated us settlers well, but 
my memory is not as good as that 
of Donald Murray, who can give 
you more information than I can. 

The first bricks were made by a man 
named Hedger, in the flats between Broad- 
way and the fort. 

There was a small Indian mound in the 
vicinity of Seven Oaks, outside the old road. 

The first mission buildings erected by the 
Rev. John West were situated just where 
the old school house now stands, between 
the brewery and the college creek. 

A person going to Fort Garry would say 
he was going to the Forks, but thinks it was 
a general term applied to all the district 
near the mouth of the Assiniboine. 


The following particulars were obtained 
from his son, the Rev. Canon Matheson, of 
St. John's college: 

John Matheson was born on October 15, 
1814, in the parish of Kildonan, Sutherland- 
shire, Scotland. He sailed with his parents 
for York Factory in June, 1815, and arrived 
at Fort Douglas on Christmas day, of the 
same year. He was too young to be aware, 
from personal knowledge, but can speak 
definitely on the following points: 

His deceased brother was piesent twice 
at the burying of Governor Sernple, the last 
time being wnen the bodies were removed 
from beside Fort Douglas to St. John's 

Peter Fidler did build a fort nearer the 
main river than the present one, in the 
vicinity of Broadway, before 1826, and he 
knows his father worked for Fidler.* 


Mr. Robert Macbeth was born in Suther- 
landshire, Scotland, in 1801. He came out 
to the Red River with his parents about 
1815, as colonists to the Selkirk settlement. 
He was a successful trader, and for many 
years a member of the Council of Assini- 
boine under the Hudson's Bay Company's 
administration, as well as a magistrate. He 
was married to Mary Maclean, whom he 
survived 23 years. He died on the 20th 
August, 1886, leaving a family of eight to 
morn his death : Adam, Alexander, Rob- 
ert, John and Roderick, and Mrs. Angus 
Henderson, Mrs. John McKay and Mrs. 
Augustus Mills. 



I was born in IS'O or thereabouts, in 
Kildonan, Scotland, and came out with 
Lord Selkirk's settlers in 1815. 

I remember well the seven oak trees 
which gave the name to the locality, <vhere 
Governor Sernple and his men were killed 
by the half breeds, in 1816, and have many 

were buried in one large grave, on the 
afterwards removed to St. John's church- 
yard. One body, of a man that was killed 
then, was buried on McDonald's lot, in St. 
Johns, and the grave was cared for a long 
while, but is now plowed over and the site 
lost sight of. 

There was an Indian burial mound on the 

southwest side of what is now called Logan's 
crook, and on the property to-day owned 
by ex-Mayor Logan. There was a clump of 
trees at the spot when the grave was dug. 
I do not remember that their bodies were 
a time shot pheasants (grouse) from their 

Governor Semplc and ome of his people 

south side of Seven Oaks creek, near the 
trail, but it, also, has been plowed over. 
When people spoke of the Forks, in old 
times, they referred to the point of land 
on the north side of the Assiniboine, where 
that stream flows into the Red. I never 
heard the south side called the Forks. I 
have always lived on this lot, and have 



never been farther away than Portage la 
Prairie or Pembina since the troubles 
in 1816. 

I remember Fort Gibraltar well, 
it faced the Red River and the Assiniboine. 
The rivers were far narrower than they are 
now. I think I could have thrown a stone 
across the Red River here then. I remem- 
ber that bricks were made at St. John's by 
a man who came out with the Rev. Mr. 


I was born in Caithness, Scotland, in 
1806, and came out here in 1815 with my 
parents, who were Selkirk colonists. My 
name was Elizabeth (Betty) McKay before I 
married Wollrich Kaufman, a DeMeuron 
soldier, who came up with Lord Selkirk in 
1817. Winnipeg was always a great camp- 
ing ground for the Indians. 

I saw Governor Semple and his dead 
companions buried in one 1 grave on the 
south side of the creek near Fort Douglas, 
where a grove of trees stood. The gover- 
nor and the doctor were buried in coffins, 
and the others wrapped up in blankets, the 
day after the massacre. Mr. Sutherland's 
body was stripped quite naked, but it is 
not true that they all lay out on the prairie 
for some days. 

I remember that Lord Selkirk came here 

and held a meeting of the settlers. He was 
tall and straight, very lordly in appearance, 
but not strong looking. Before we left 
Scotland His Lordship promised us a cow 
each, and a plow between two, but after- 
wards we had to pay for all these things. 

My brother, Selkirk McKay, was born on 
the way from York Factory, at Painted 
Stone, being the first white child born in 
that colony. He was called a fter Lord 

I knew Cuthbert Grant very well, for he 
was very kind to us settlers. 

I remember the stockade fort Donald 
Murray speaks of. It was between Fort 
Douglas and the Northwest fort. I cannot 
now tell you where it was, for the ground is 
all covered with houses, but I think it was 
near the high ground between the forts. 
This fort was existing at the same time as the 
colony fort and the Northwest Company's 

Go to Donald Murray, he can tell you far 
more than any of us about these things. 

[Father Dugast, of St. Boniface, has writ- 
ten most interesting notes of the history of 
Mme. Lajimoniere, a French -Canadian 
woman who arrived at Pembina, from Mon- 
treal, in 1806, and it has been stated by 
several writers that she was the first white 
woman in the Red River country. The 
above evidence proves these statements to 
be not founded on fact, and though they 
have been made in good faith, it is well they 
should be denied. En.l